The number of people supported by the Dublin Simon Community last year reduced by 17 per cent, as a chronic housing shortage prevented them from helping many more to exit homelessness, the charity has said.
Releasing details of its annual impact report for 2022 on Wednesday, chief executive Catherine Kenny said the lack of housing supply for clients to move on was of “critical concern”.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Ms Kenny said the charity was “preventing or ending homelessness every day and looking to build on that” but people were spending longer in homelessness, “primarily due to the lack of housing supply for them to move on to”.
“That has a huge impact on people’s mental health. Historically, a lot of clients moved into privately rented housing, but they’re now stuck competing with 10 to 100 people on any available unit,” she said.
“It’s incredibly difficult for people to move on,” she said, adding: “It’s disheartening for everybody when they’re doing everything they can but there’s just no available housing”.
A client who attended the Dublin Simon’s addiction support services, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Irish Times that after attending a detox programme and spending time in a recovery unit, he was given the opportunity to move into support housing, but has not been able to move on since.
“They helped me detox from alcohol and I was in the recovery unit for a short period. I went to a lot of group and individual therapy before moving into support housing, and I was able to get the homeless housing assistance payment,” he explained.
“But now I’m just stuck in limbo because there’s no properties out there for me to move into. I’m ready to move on into independent living. All I want is a one-bedroom apartment that’s secure so I can carry on with my journey in my recovery,” he said.
The man said it was an “important part of your recovery to have your own place to call home instead of living in the services”.
“I’m trying to move on with my life and get back to work but that’s all stuck for me now. It’s frustrating I can’t do anything about it,” he said.
Dublin Simon now has 784 accommodation units, of which 280 are independent housing, 179 are long-term supported accommodation and the remainder are emergency accommodation and health and addiction treatment beds.
By the end of 2022, Dublin Simon reported that 5,476 people and families were supported across all services and 1,011 people were living in forever homes provided by Dublin Simon Community.
The charity said:
- 715 adults and children had homes in long-term independent housing and 192 people were living in medium and high support housing with access to key working and supports needed to rebuild their lives
- 453 people stayed in Dublin Simon’s short-term emergency accommodation
- 934 people received medical, residential treatment, detox, and recovery services across 2022
Dublin Simon’s Outreach had 6,371 interventions with people sleeping rough and 3,335 hours of one-to-one counselling and crisis suicide intervention was provided by Dublin Simon’s Sure Steps Counselling service.
Ms Kenny acknowledged the challenges of operating in a year where the country was emerging from a pandemic into the depths of a cost of living crisis.
“Against the odds we continued to end homelessness for people and families every single day in 2022,” she said.
But the “limitations placed on the scope of our success cannot go unacknowledged”, she added.
“Many of these people have overcome extraordinary challenges to get to that point, including trauma, addiction, broken homes and financial challenges. It is truly heartbreaking that they are unable to clear this final hurdle to rebuilding their lives”.
Senior property development manager, Rory O’Moore said the scale of the task to address the housing and homelessness crisis was “vast” and it was “critical that the pace of progress is increased”.
“This will take the combined efforts of state agencies, the private sector and approved housing bodies to deliver successful outcomes that will end homelessness,” he said.