7,000 to be in emergency beds for Christmas

Niamh Randall, spokeswoman for the Simon Communities

There has been a 26% increase in the number of people seeking help from the Simon Communities of Ireland in the last two years.

It is estimated there will be 7,000 men, women, and children living in emergency accommodation this Christmas.

The figure emerges in a year where the numbers on the social housing waiting list grew to 100,000.

Last year, the Simon Communities worked with 8,297 people, which included 897 families.

The figures are contained in the Simon Communities’ annual report for 2015, which was launched yesterday by Housing Minister Simon Coveney.

“Homelessness is a number one priority for this Government as part of a broader housing strategy,” he said, “and the solutions are more social housing; more emergency accommodation in the short term, because that’s what’s needed to deal with people in particular who’d otherwise be on the streets; to ensure that that accommodation is safe and of a high quality so people aren’t afraid to go in there.”

Commenting on the housing and homeless crisis and the need for emergency beds, Mr Coveney said money would not be an “obstacle”.

“There will be an extra 160 beds open, I think, by [tonight] or by Friday, and soon that will be up to about 210 in terms of those three new hostels: One on Francis St which will be run by the Simon Community — by Friday there will be 25 beds up and running there, soon to be 51 — and in Little Britain St and on Ellis Quay,” he said.

“And if there is a need for more of those hostels well then we’ll deliver them, whatever is needed to ensure that the numbers of people who need a bed and who are looking for them and need the security and supports of structured, well-designed, professionally run hostels, whatever that demand is in the short term in terms of emergency response, we will deliver that and money will not be an obstacle to that.”

Niamh Randall, spokeswoman for the Simon Communities, said housing is the solution to the crisis.

“The solutions to the crisis are clear — we must provide affordable housing and we need to provide people with the support they need in this housing,” she said.

“We must move away from temporary supported accommodation options. We must find a way to do this not just because it’s the right thing to do and because people deserve better but because the right to housing is one of the most fundamental rights.”


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