Demand for Simon Communities’ services rises by more than a quarter in one year

Homeless charity says housing crisis should not be ‘accepted as normal’

Some 2,834 families with 5,331 children were supported by the Simon Communities across their services in 2018

Some 2,834 families with 5,331 children were supported by the Simon Communities across their services in 2018

 

Demand for services from the Simon Communities has increased by more than a quarter in just one year, according to the homeless charity’s annual report published on Thursday

The report shows 16,776 people used Simon Communities’ services in 2018, including 2,834 families with 5,331 children. This is up from 13,304 people the previous year.

Simon Communities are a network of independent charitable communities based across Ireland and responding to local needs. They are supported by a national office which co-ordinates and sets policy.

The annual report for 2018 shows a 26 per cent increase in people turning to all of their emergency, prevention, sustainment and housing services.

A total of 5,263 people were supported in housing by the Simon Communities, a 56.8 per cent increase on 2017, and 1,738 people accessed emergency accommodation, a 79.5 per cent increase, the charity said.

National spokesperson for the organisation Wayne Stanley said charities were “experiencing a very welcome decline in family and child homelessness in Dublin”. However, he said this was due to collaboration between NGOs, local authorities and Government departments throughout the year rather than a reduction in demand for homes.

He said figures showed while there was a drop in homelessness of about 23 families in Dublin in October, this represented about 1 per cent, and likely reflected better co-ordination among providers rather then less demand.

Nationwide issue

He said record levels of people had been forced to access emergency accommodation in October.

“Over 10,500 men, women and children will now enter the new year in that situation. And this is very much a nationwide issue; we have seen levels of rural and long-term homelessness increasing, along with instances of ‘hidden homelessness’ and those forced to stay with family or friends.

“We are all aware that the main driver of homelessness is a critical lack of secure affordable accommodation, and this is something that needs to be addressed by Government” Mr Stanley said.

He said it was vital that the trend does not become normalised.

“There are solutions that will have a meaningful impact on ending housing insecurity and homelessness for people, such as the provision of sustainable cost rental accommodation.

“There must also be a continued focus on prevention and keeping people in the homes that they already have. As we face into 2020, we need to remember that this homelessness and housing crisis cannot be accepted as normal.”