Tenants worried about homelessness

More than one in three people worry that rising rents will lead to an increase in homelessness, according to new figures from the Simon Community.

One in five people feared losing their own home and more than a third are concerned about the impact of homelessness on people’s health.

“It is getting harder and harder to provide the support that people need when they come to us,” said national spokesperson for the Simon Communities Niamh Randall.

“Private rented supply is now at the lowest level in a decade,” she said.

Over 3,000 people have signed a letter on www.simonhomelessforecast.ie urging Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste John Burton to act on homelessness.

“It’s no surprise that people fear losing their homes as they see little government action right now,” said Ms Randall. She said the decision to leave rent supplement limits unchanged was causing homelessness and would continue to do unless reversed. And rent certainty measures promised earlier this year by Environment Minister Alan Kelly must be introduced as a matter of urgency, she said.

“The Simon Communities are working with over 6,000 people annually and it’s inevitable we will see even more people turning to us for help as rents continue to rise,” said Ms Randall.

She added that it was “unforgivable” that there were local authority houses and state-owned properties lying empty when there were people sleeping on the street or stuck in emergency accommodation.

“The current system is scandalous where housing remains vacant while maintenance work is undertaken, which can take months to complete,” she said.

And for the State to say to people there is no prospect of getting a home any time soon was just not good enough. “People need homes now and people need action now,” she said.

A lecturer in the School of Nursing and Human Sciences at Dublin City University, Briege Casey, said numerous research studies had shown that homelessness and unstable housing arrangements affected people’s health.

Dr Casey will be one of the main speakers at a DCU conference on Friday for nurses who provide care to homeless people and other marginalised groups.

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