Homelessness is not normal and with the scale of the housing and homelessness crisis it is more important than ever that we highlight this.
Thousands of men, women and children are now homeless or in fear of losing their home. What is becoming an everyday sight and story must not be normalised. It’s time for change. This is unacceptable. If we don’t challenge the new normal, then we all risk being complicit with the narrative that this is all normal and will be resolved with time.
From January to July of this year alone the North West Simon Community worked with 38 cases in Leitrim alone – of that 17 were families, 54 children and 21 individual people.
The majority of the cases were Irish nationality. Due to the large number presenting in Co. Leitrim a Simon housing support & advice clinic takes place in The Breffni Resource Centre, Carrick on Shannon every Tuesday from 2-5pm. This has been running for over three years now.
Our housing sector remains in crisis with all elements of it showing signs of being broken and inadequate. The private rented market is failing as a response to tackling the crisis. Social housing construction in recent decades has halted, and mortgage debt and rents have spiralled.
The results have had devastating consequences on the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in Ireland. People are trapped in emergency accommodation for far too long while many more have no other choice but to share with family and friends, doubling and tripling up, resulting in unsustainable overcrowding.
Still more people join them each month, due to our dysfunctional housing system. While it is welcome that some people are leaving emergency accommodation, others are quickly taking their place.
Large-scale secure, social and affordable housing supply is urgently required to meet the housing needs of the (at least) 86,000 households on the social housing waiting list. Prevention and keeping people in the homes they have, is key to stopping the flow into homelessness.
Those in the private rented sector remain most at risk due to rising rents, dwindling supply and limited security of tenure. Access to safe, affordable and secure housing is a basic need and income should not be a barrier to this. People must not be left to wait any longer– we need urgent action now, they need urgent action now.
The Simon Communities have three core solutions, all of which are underpinned by the right to housing:
1. Prevent homelessness and keep people in their homes.
We need to keep people in their homes, preventing homelessness from happening in the first place. Measures are required to prevent homelessness occurring, for those who have an increased risk of homelessness due to crisis situations in their lives, and those that have already been affected by homelessness.
2. Secure social and affordable housing supply
People need the security and safety of their own home. Addressing other issues or problems a person or family may be experiencing in their lives is much more effective when people have a place to call home. Adopting a Housing First approach, where people are housed in the first instance and given the support they need afterwards, is essential.
3. Support in Housing
Addressing other issues or problems a person or family may be experiencing in their lives is much more effective when people have a place to call home. Adopting a Housing First approach, where people are housed in the first instance and given the support they need – support to live independently, clinical support and support toward community integration.
Support in housing is critical to the success of a Housing First approach and is vital to the sustainability of exits from homelessness. It is also an essential part of homelessness prevention work. This support allows people to maintain their tenancies/homes, improve their general health and well-being and seek education and employment opportunities if and when they choose to.
This Simon Week you can sign the petition online, go to www.simon.ie and send a message to the Government that they can’t ignore the homeless and housing crisis.
You can support your local Simon Community this week – there is still time to sign up for the Annual Sleep Out in Sligo Town.
Upcoming events include Friday 26th October – Yeats Fine Dining Experience hosted by Damien & Paula Brennan – Tickets from 087 7708865- limited to 50 people, a night not to be missed.
Soup for Simon – Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th October – calling all cafes/restaurants to sign up to donate €1 from every bowl of soup sold this week to the NW Simon Community.