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Almost 17,000 people helped by Simon Communities last year - 26% more than in 2017

That’s according to the charity’s annual report being launched today.

Image: Leon Farrell via RollingNews.ie

THERE HAS BEEN a 26% increase in the number of people turning to Simon Communities of Ireland services for support over the last 12 months. 

That’s according to the charity’s annual report being launched today. 

In total, 16,776 people used Simon Communities services in 2018, including 2,834 families with 5,331 children, up from 13,304 people the previous year. 

The report shows that 5,263 people were supported out of homelessness into housing by the charity last year, representing a 56.8% increase since 2017. 

The Simon Communities provided emergency accommodation to 1,738 people in 2018, up 79.5% on the previous year. 

2,812 people also accessed specialist treatment and support services which included healthcare, counselling and community alcohol detoxification.

The Simon Communities support men, women and children around the country each year. They are a network of independent communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid-West, the North-West and the South-East. 

Latest figures from the Department of Housing show that 10,514 were in emergency accommodation in Ireland in October, including 6,688 adults and 3,826 children. 

“This week’s latest homeless figures showed record levels of people forced to access emergency accommodation in October. Over 10,500 men, women and children will now enter the New Year in that situation,” Simon Communities national spokesperson Wayne Stanley said. 

“And this is very much a nationwide issued. 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,” Stanley said. 

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. 

Stanley added that with “the lack of affordable and social housing or an accessible private rental sector, the majority of homeless people are now constrained by having nowhere to go”. 

“Every case is different – what is common to all is that homelessness and housing insecurity is traumatic, stressful and filled with uncertainty,” he said, adding that this is something that the Simon Communities sees through its work across the country. 

Eoghan Murphy

The publication of the Simon Communities annual report comes just days after Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy survived a motion of confidence by 56 to 53 votes (with 35 abstentions). 

During the debate on Tuesday night, Murphy defended his record and rounded on Róisín Shortall from the Social Democrats, who had tabled the motion, stating that she has spoken out against housing developments in her own locality. 

“Rebuilding Ireland is working,” he said. However, many opposition TDs disagreed with this statement. 

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald said the government is out of touch, stating that children wait for Santa in hotels and family hubs, while others pay €2,000 in rent each month.

Alternative solutions are needed, “not spin and bull” she told the Taoiseach. 

Solidarity-People Before Profit and Rise TD Paul Murphy criticised Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as “landlord” parties, and compared Murphy to Boris Johnson.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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