North West Simon Community has expressed concern at evidence that the number of people experiencing homelessness in the region is continuing to increase at a time when the numbers using emergency accommodation nationally are in decline.
Noel Daly, General Manager of North West Simon Community, was speaking following publication of the most recent statistics from the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage. The latest statistics show a welcome decline of 18.8% in the numbers using emergency homeless accommodation across the country in November 2020 when compared to November 2019.
“Sadly, we have not seen this decline in the North West, as there has been an increase of 8.3% in the number of people accessing emergency accommodation during the same period. These statistics will not be a surprise to the agencies supporting people experiencing homelessness in the North West”, Mr Daly said.
The number of people accessing emergency accommodation is only one aspect of a complex problem, and these figures do not adequately describe the full extent of homelessness anywhere in the country. The figures released by the Government, don’t include families in refuges, direct provision, people sharing with family and friends in overcrowded circumstances, or living in cars, vans, or sleeping rough.
North West Simon Community has observed increased demand for support from households at risk or experiencing homelessness throughout the year. “In the first eleven months of 2020, our outreach team has worked with 439 individuals in 174 households, while we provided similar support to 335 individuals in 155 households, over the full twelve-month period in 2019” he explained.
“There is a chronic shortage of housing in Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal, with few if any properties available to rent within the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits that many at risk of homelessness would seek to use. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the requirement for social distancing has exacerbated an already difficult situation. We need decisive and urgent action on the part of the government to deal with this housing crisis, not another five-year plan”, says Noel Daly.
North West Simon Community believes that the government must make preventing homelessness a priority through:
- A comprehensive homelessness prevention strategy with ring-fenced funding to stop homelessness before it starts.
- Ensuring that 50% of all new social housing are one and two bed units. Providing an average of 7,500, one and two bed, social homes each year. This will help to develop the housing infrastructure we need to stop homelessness before it starts.
- Increasing protection for renters, to ensure that tenants cannot be evicted into homelessness.
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