By an end to homelessness we mean nobody sleeping rough, nobody living in emergency accommodation for longer than is an emergency and nobody becoming homeless because of a lack of appropriate services.
In 'Towards 2016' (the new Social Partnership agreement) Government committed that by 2010 nobody will be living in emergency accommodation for longer than is an emergency. In 2007 launched a preventative strategy aimed at ensuring that nobody leaving hospital, care or prison would become homeless. In the current homeless strategy, The Way Home (2008) the government committed to ending long term homelessness and the need to sleep rough by 2010. This committment was repeated in the most recent Programme for Government, October 2009.
Ending homelessness is already a political commitment; we need your help to make sure it is a reality.
There are currently at least 4,143 persons who are homeless in Ireland at any one time. These people are denied access to appropriate, secure and affordable housing. The vast majority of people are living in emergency hostels and B&B's. The link between homelessness, poverty and social exclusion is widely acknowledged nationally and indeed internationally. There are other factors which can contribute to this including; family or relationship breakdown; physical or sexual violence in the home; bereavement; mental and/or physical health issues; problem drug and alcohol use. Young people leaving care, people leaving prison and other institutional settings are also particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless.
There are many solutions all of which involve the provision of a range of accommodation options coupled with supports tailord to the needs of each individual and/or household. There needs to be greater provision of appropriate accommodation. There needs to be dedicated funding for health, social-care and housing supports. There needs to be an improvement in the collection of data on homelessness locally and national planning. Everybody who becomes homeless must have their needs objectively assessed with a time frame setting out when their needs will be met and by whom.
These are challenging issues, but they are not insurmountable. We have put forward our best solutions in six key policy areas. We hope that political parties and other policy makers will engage with these. We do not believe that any one group has all the answers, but we do believe that a national debate with real political outcomes needs to happen.
For many people, homelessness can be prevented. Nobody who is in an institution, be it hospital, prison, or care, should be discharged without a decent housing option to go to. Equally, families and individuals who are at risk of homelessness because of health or family difficulties, rent arrears, anti social behaviour or illegal eviction by their landlord, can often be assisted before the situation becomes a crisis.
We may not be able to end every situation that leads to homelessness, but if someone does become homeless, then the period they spend out of home should be minimal and the quality of the service they receive should ensure they have every chance of getting and keeping a stable home.