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'We shouldn't accept homelessness as normal': 13,304 helped by Simon Communities last year

Figures for the first six months of 2018 suggest record numbers of people using its services.

File photo
File photo
Image: Leon Farrell via RollingNews.ie

MORE THAN 13,000 people were assisted by the Simon Communities of Ireland in 2017, an increase of 60% in two years. 

These people were turning to the Simon Communities emergency, housing and support services around the country. 

A total of 13,304 men, women and children sought help from the charity last year, according to its 2017 annual report launched today. 

This includes 2,006 families and 3,796 children. 

Figures for the first six months of this year suggest record numbers of people using services in 2018, according to the charity. 

The Simon Communities report that 1,218 people accessed their emergency accommodation services between January and June of 2018. This compares to a total of 968 people accessing emergency accommodation for all of 2017. 

“Today we are reporting the number of people we worked with last year increased to 13,304 people. Simon Communities around the country are tirelessly working to provide emergency services, health care, housing and housing support to the ever-growing number of people who are relying on their help,” Niamh Randall, national spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland, said. 

Noting the figures for the first six months of this year, she added: “We have said time and time again; there is nowhere for people to go once they end up in emergency accommodation. 

The private rental sector cannot provide the homes that are needed, particularly in the absence of the level of social housing required.
For many thousands of people who are homeless or living in fear of losing their home this is traumatic, stressful and filled with uncertainty. 

The figures for 2017 also show that a total of 1,133 people were supported in Simon housing nationwide. 

A total of 2,740 people accessed specialist treatment and support services which included healthcare, drugs counselling and community alcohol detoxification, while 1,126 people availed of drug and or alcohol treatment services. 

Homeless figures

Earlier this month, new official figures revealed that the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin increased to 156. 

According to the latest Rough Sleeper Count – carried out twice a year by 100 volunteers – the figures were up 110 from the spring count but down 15% on the last winter count of 184. 

The latest emergency accommodation figures for October also show that there are now collectively 9,724 people living in homeless accommodation across Ireland. 

Turning to address homelessness, Randall said that the government can and must do better in 2019. 

“We must never accept homelessness as normal,” Randall said. 

We must never accept people living with such fear and uncertainty as normal. 

“It is time for the government to recognise that the private sector alone will not deliver the housing that people need, it cannot solve the crisis,” she said. 

“We need the State, in conjunction with local authorities and approved housing bodies, to build social and affordable housing across all tenure types quickly within sustainable communities nationwide, to prevent more people from becoming homeless, and to address the complex or multiple needs that can be a cause or consequence of homelessness.” 

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