Response to homelessness offers few solutions, says Simon

Charity recored 20 per cent increase in number of people seeking service

The current response to the homelessness crisis must change if the issue is to be solved, a leading organisation in the sector has said.

The Simon Communities, in its annual report published today, says most of the response to homelessness is short-term and offers little in the way of real solutions. The charity saw a 20 per cent increase in the number of people seeking its help last year, as compared with 2013.

“During 2014 the Simon Communities worked with 7,273 people and 531 families using a housing-first approach – supporting people to move into housing and providing support in housing,” says the report.

While there would always be need for some emergency accommodation there needed to be a move away from this as the knee-jerk response.


“We can’t just keep offering people short-term solutions with little attention paid to their longer-term needs. Without access to appropriate, affordable housing options, people are getting trapped in the cycle of homelessness.”

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the charity said the homeless and housing crisis had continued "largely unchecked", this year.

“The numbers in emergency accommodation have continued to rise to over 5000 men, women and children, nearly double what they were this time last year.

"Meanwhile, quarterly data from and the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) demonstrates that rents are continuing to rise at a time when the number of properties available is decreasing. We heard repeated calls from the National Economic and Social Council for rent regulation and tenancy security. The draft National Risk Assessment Report highlighted the increase in property prices as a threat to the economy and National Competitiveness Council specifically mentions high rents, the need for social housing and rising house prices."

Despite all the calls and the talk about action being taken little action had been taken.

“We are dealing with a system that is broken and incapable of responding appropriately as it is currently constructed. What is very clear is that this crisis cannot be solved by one Government department or ministry. We need to be able to cut through the red tape and respond quickly to this urgent need. Until we do that, more people will suffer, more people will end up homeless and more people will be trapped in emergency accommodation.”

"With just over two weeks until we ring in the New Year it is very difficult to feel optimistic when looking at the current situation. We need urgent short term measures to ensure that housing is delivered to those who need it most. Despite the many calls and evidence for an increase in Rent Supplement/HAP limits there is still no movement on this by the Department of Social Protection or the Tánaiste Joan Burton. With the recent introduction of rent stability measures, now is the time to raise Rent Supplement limits to help keep people in their homes."

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times