Sophia, a national homeless charity says that providing supports are key to ending the homeless crisis.
The charity this year marked 25 years since it was founded has called for major investment in housing with supports services as being key to ending homelessness in Ireland.
Speaking at the virtual launch of their annual report, Sophia CEO Tony O’Riordan said that providing a home for many people is not enough.
“Providing a home for many people is not enough. People who have experienced homelessness have been impacted by traumas that require a response that not just recognises those traumas but also provides interventions to ensure that they do not continue to negatively affect that person and result in a cycle of homelessness. Major investment is needed in supported homes to end that cycle and the homeless crisis,” Mr O’Riordan stated.
In 2021 Sophia supported 1145 people, this included 241 families and 576 children. In just five years Sophia has increased the number of people it supports by 125%.
The charity works with people who have complex support needs. Of the adults supported by Sophia in 2021 28% had an addiction and 34% had a mental health support need. Even with those complex cases, they achieved a 99% housing stability. Meaning only one percent of those supported by Sophia in 2021 returned to homelessness. A level of stability is higher than the average achieved by Housing First, with around 15% returning to homelessness. Sophia has achieved this remarkable for two consecutive years.
“Providing supports are key, they are what makes the difference to someone who has been impacted by homelessness. What Sophia does is different, what Sophia does works and our model of support makes a lasting positive impact,” Sophia chairperson, Michael McCarthy, noted.
Sophia has ambitious plans to grow the numbers of homes it provides across the country. By 2025 it will have increased the number of supported homes it manages by 90%.
“It is our partnerships that make this growth possible. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage are backing our developments, and Religious Congregations are donating lands and buildings which will see them reimagined as homes for the most vulnerable across the country at a time when they are needed most,” Mr McCarthy concluded.