Monday 5 December 2016

Homeless 'epidemic' requires more State support

Jane O'Faherty

Published 01/09/2015 | 02:30

Niamh Randall national spokesperson for the Simon Communities & Glenn Gannon who spent three and half years on the streets of Dublin and now credits the Simon Community, with whom he now volunteers, for getting back on track, at the Launch of Simon Communities Homeless Forecast Campaign & Pre Budget Submission
Niamh Randall national spokesperson for the Simon Communities & Glenn Gannon who spent three and half years on the streets of Dublin and now credits the Simon Community, with whom he now volunteers, for getting back on track, at the Launch of Simon Communities Homeless Forecast Campaign & Pre Budget Submission

Homelessness in Ireland has become an "epidemic" but the Government response to it is inadequate, according to the Simon Communities.

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Early intervention to prevent homelessness, ensuring that people can access affordable accommodation and supporting them when they are rehoused were all deemed "critical priorities" by the organisation.

The nationwide network launched its Pre-Budget Submission for 2016, and said that rent allowance and housing supports need to be increased to meet sky-rocketing rents.

Simon volunteer Glenn Gannon slept on the streets of Dublin for more than three years in the 1990s, but said that he had never seen homelessness reach current levels.

"There are many, many more victims, and the victims who are alive at this moment in time may not be alive in the New Year if something is not done immediately," he added. "This is not a situation. This is an epidemic."

"As we move into the centenary of the foundation of the State, I am pleading on behalf of the nation to help our people on the streets and try to help them so that they will not be found dead in a doorway."

The number of properties available to rent has plummeted by 80pc since 2009, while rental prices have increased by more than 20pc since June 2013.

Despite this, rent allowance limits have not increased since then.

There are currently 3,285 adults and 1,383 children using emergency accommodation in Ireland. In total, 657 families are sheltered in this temporary accommodation.

On one night in March 2015, there were 151 people without a safe place to sleep in Dublin city.

Niamh Randall, national spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said that emergency accommodation still needed funding to cope with demand. She stressed that it could not be seen as the answer to homelessness.

"It is not a place for people to spend any lengthy period," she said. "The impact on their overall health and wellbeing is absolutely devastating."

She also called on members of the public to join their campaign and write to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton to highlight the issue.

"What we are seeing at this point in time is an insufficient response from Government," she said.

"The more noise we can make, the more support we can get for this campaign, the more action we think is possible."

Irish Independent

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