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CEO of the Simon Community said employment "is no longer a way out of homelessness". Alamy Stock Photo
housing committee

Having a job is 'no longer a way out of homelessness', TDs told

Wayne Stanley said the issue is arising particularly where younger people are gaining employment despite living in emergency accommodation.

THE SIMON COMMUNITY told the Oireachtas housing committee today that there is a growing number of working homeless people using their services and in emergency accommodation.

Executive director of The Simon Community, Wayne Stanley, said employment is “no longer a way out of homelessness”.

Stanley told the committee a growing number of employed people are presenting to their services, in need of emergency accommodation and various other services that the charity provide.

He said this issue is particularly impacting those in the charity’s Galway, mid-west and Cork facilities and that own-room accommodation is best suited for this group.

Stanley said the issue is arising “particularly in youth services” – where younger people are gaining employment despite living in emergency accommodation.

“The notable route about that, is that [employment] is no longer a route out of homelessness which, some years it ago, it would’ve been,” Stanley added.

Threshold, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) and the Simon Community were present at the committee and highlighted that the rate of those exiting homelessness has fallen across the board.

Mary Hayes, director of DRHE, said she is “concerned” because of the “month-on-month” fall in the rate of exits and that the ability for those who are homeless to enter the private market is “hampered”.

Halfway through the first round of questioning, Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó’Broin said: 

The concern I have is, every time we come to talk about this, things are worse.”

The deputy told the committee that, while they were sitting, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) had reported that received 4,753 eviction notices in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 424 since the last three months of 2022.

The RTB received a similar number in the third quarter of 2022 (4,741). 

Ó’Broin suggested that the number reported by the RTB was going to make it “much, much more difficult” to try and tackle the “collapsing” levels of exits and preventions.

CEO of Cork Simon Community, Dermot Kavanagh said there is a “greater difficulty in finding exits for people”.

Kavanagh said Cork Simon Community are under “immense pressure” and are continuing to see a growth in the number of working homeless down in Cork.

“We have a growing number what you have to regretfully call the ‘working homeless’,” Kavanagh added.

The Cork CEO said he believes that those who are working should be facilitated alternative locations, such as shared housing.

We are in a deep crisis,” Kavanagh said.

Issues with the HAP scheme

Hayes said the concern is because it could lead to a “banking up of homelessness” and said that issues around the availability of the Homeless Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) scheme need to be fixed to solve it.

Stanley also told the committee that the government need to “make sure people aren’t falling into arrears” due to their HAP scheme being too low compared to their rent and pushed to see an increased in rates.

CEO of Threshold, John Mark McCafferty said: “Since 2022, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people who are at risk of homelessness.”

McCafferty said that there has been about a 12% increase in the number of households who have the charity have identified as at risk in when comparing the first quarter of 2023 with the first quarter of 2022.

All three charities commended the work of the tenant in situ scheme however the DRHE said that availability to be placed on a list to transfer home must be made easier to and must be completed quicker.

Threshold said that the they believe it is not always clear to a tenant who they should contact to avail to the scheme and DRHE said they had to work with the local council to make them aware of it.

Last week, it was announced the number of people homeless in Ireland reached a record high of 12,259 accessing emergency accommodation in April 2023.

The figure includes 3,594 children. 1,733 of homeless adults were in families, which is 94 more than the previous month.

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