Simon Communities of Ireland aim to end ongoing homelessness crisis

The Simon Communities of Ireland have launched this year’s Simon Week, with a call to support the Simon Bill.   Pictured is Wayne Stanley, Head of Policy and Communications at Simon Communities of Ireland and James Leonard, Ambassador for Simon Week.

The Simon Communities of Ireland have launched this year’s Simon Week, with a call to support the Simon Bill. Pictured is Wayne Stanley, Head of Policy and Communications at Simon Communities of Ireland and James Leonard, Ambassador for Simon Week.

The Simon Communities of Ireland have launched this year’s Simon Week, with a call to support the Simon Bill.

The Simon Communities of Ireland are proposing an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act that will provide a targeted intervention to prevent homelessness. They are calling on the public to support the Bill by emailing their local TDs and Darragh O’Brien, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

The theme for this year’s Simon Week is ‘Not Good Enough – End Homelessness Now’ and the purpose of the proposed legislative amendment is to provide an increased level of protection, and extended access to support, for those at risk of homelessness following an eviction notice.

The amendment will allow local authorities to determine whether a person or family are ‘at risk of homelessness’. They key difference with this legislative proposal to previous extensions to notice periods is that it is triggered by the involvement of a local authority, and allows a local authority to engage for at least a three-month period with a person or family who is at risk of homelessness.

“We believe the Government target of eradicating homelessness by 2030 is achievable but, we have to start today. The homeless and housing crisis is multifaceted, but during the pandemic we saw homelessness fall because of the moratorium on evictions. Our amendment draws its inspiration from that success. We propose an amendment to the residential tenancies act that will give those in crisis, a little more time to secure a home with the support of their local authority and organisations like Simon.

“Every day we see people presenting who have been given a valid notice to quit, they have been trying find a new home but it has not worked out for them. With a week to go, they present to their local authority or a Simon Community and too many have to spend a period of time in homelessness.

The Simon Bill gives these individuals and families a little more time, and supports and increases the impact of the positive prevention work that is currently undertaken,” Wayne Stanley, Head of Policy and Communications at Simon Communities of Ireland, said.

Simon Week Ambassador James Leonard found himself homeless after a period of addiction.

“When I spoke to the team in Simon about being a part of this campaign we discussed my route out of addiction and homelessness and realised it was in a way also the answer to preventing homelessness.

“I had made many efforts to get sober, the difference the last time was that Simon gave me a place to go and the support I needed. This year’s Simon Week campaign and the Simon prevention Bill is about keeping people in a home and providing the supports they need, stopping homelessness before it starts,” Mr Leonard asserted.

Simon Week also includes a closed door meeting between TDs and Senators and representatives from the Simon Communities across Ireland to discuss issues facing the local communities.

The Simon Communities of Ireland will publish the second and third phase of a study of the experiences of clients of Simon and the response of Simon services to the Covid-19 pandemic, Simon Community Service Users’ Experiences During the Pandemic (Finnerty, Cullinane and Buckley, 2021 ) and Sustaining the Accelerant: The response of Simon Communities to Four Waves of the Covid-19 Pandemic (Finnerty, Cullinane and Buckley, 2021 ).

The first report Systems Accelerant? The Responses of Simon Communities to ‘First Wave’ Covid-19 (Finnerty and Buckley, 2021 ) was published earlier this year.

The three research reports evaluate the responses of the eight Simon Communities in the Irish Republic to the challenges posed by COVID-19 from the point of view of the Simon Communities and of key statutory (Local Authority and Health Service Executive ) respondents, across the eight regions in which Simon operates, during the successive waves of the pandemic in the period March 2020 – August 2021.

 

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