Speakers: Change housing policy to end homelessness

People at risk of homelessness should get long-term, stable accommodation to prevent them from becoming institutionalised within the current system.

The call for a change in police was made by international speakers at a conference to support the Simon Community’s Home For Good campaign. Homelessness experts said the system of emergency and short-term accommodation risks keeping people in difficult situations. They said the only way to break the cycle is to introduce policies that provide those affected with long-term, stable accommodation that addresses housing issues first and related issues second.

“A system set up to treat addiction ends up with people remaining in ‘treatment’ for a very long time. Most of the recovery comes after the person is housed,” said Dr Sam Tsemberis of the Pathway to Housing group.

A Simon spokeswoman said while the Coalition’s promise to end chronic long-term homelessness by 2016 is to be welcomed, this needs to include a widespread switch towards a housing-first approach.

She said that, since 2010, HSE funds for homeless services have fallen 20%.

The Department of Environment cut its budget support for services by 3.2% this year — though some local authorities which distribute the money have imposed cuts of between 7% and 12.27%.

It came as Dublin Regional Homeless Executive said the time people can stay in some homeless facilities is set to be cut from two years to six months. It said no one will be moved out of the support services until they get appropriate long-term accommodation. The move is part of the Pathway To Home initiative, which calls for young homeless people to be given their own homes to avoid the risk of being institutionalised in “supported accommodation”.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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