homeless

Housing First - The Solution to Ireland's Homelessness Crisis?

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Month on month figures reveal that more and more men, women and children are finding their way onto our streets with no home to call their own. We need a change of strategy to effectively address the homelessness crisis in Ireland.

The government’s strategy in dealing with homelessness has been to provide short-term emergency accommodation through local authorities. Yes, this is better than doing nothing at all for people who find themselves with nowhere to go. But is it effective? Does it give people the platform to grow and make a life for themselves and their family? Does the current programme try to figure out why people are in their current situation and take proactive action to ensure that they and future generations will never have to face homelessness again? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is no. It really is a case of putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.

Housing First - Ireland’s Alternative
Homeless services in Ireland generally operate on a staircase recovery model. In short, those seeking to be housed must prove their worth. For example, this can be done by living continuously in a homeless shelter while completing an addiction course or rehabilitation programme to prove one’s suitability for a home if substance abuse is identified as an issue. However, without a home one could only imagine the daily struggles you would face, mental and physical. The expectation of then entering and working your way up through the staircase model to secure housing is an unrealistic means to select those who need a home.

The Housing First Model sees the stairways recovery model as having the order backwards. The stages of the Housing First Model are:

Firstly, supply the person in question with a home of their own.

Immediately a specially dedicated care team give supports such as counselling or treatment for substance abuse to the new tenants if that is an identified inhibitor.

With continued support tenants develop the skills and resilience needed to sustain and flourish in their life and new home.

It is a simple model and the central premise makes perfect sense. Give someone a home and you’ll give them security and a platform to build from. Then the issues surrounding why such a person became homeless in the first place and how to avoid future homelessness can be addressed through the care team. This eventually leads to the full independent living of the tenant in receipt of the home.

The statistics back up the theory of the Housing First Model. In 2008, Finland adopted the Housing First Model and has eliminated long-term homelessness there. In Utah, USA, the implementation of the Housing First Model resulted in a 72% reduction in the numbers classified as long-term homeless in its first 9 years. Today, long-term homelessness has been eradicated in Utah.

In 2011, a shift towards the Housing First Model to alleviate long term homelessness was published in the Programme for Government. Currently only 1% of the national homeless budget is allocated to the Housing First Model. It is imperative that the government allocates more funding towards the Housing First Model so that charities and local authorities can tackle Ireland’s homelessness crisis effectively.

Sources:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/17/the-surprisingly-simple-way-utah-solved-chronic-homelessness-and-saved-millions/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.fa36481b5554

http://www.thejournal.ie/housing-first-homelessness-3208123-Jan2017/

https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2017/1106/917728-housing-mcverry-report/

‘Hidden Homeless’ Real Estate Agency Spreads Awareness of Poor Living Conditions

Often when people think of a homeless person they think of someone sleeping on the sidewalk.

The fact of the matter is that most people who are homeless are not sleeping rough in the streets.  They’re couch surfing in friends’ or relatives’ homes and living out of suitcases.  Many of these people could not keep up with their rent or were forced out after their landlord sold the property.  

The Society of Vincent Paul, or SVP, has worked to spread awareness about this problem.

There are over 1,100 homeless families in Ireland right now and SVP believes this is a social issue, not a financial issue.  With more regulations on private housing and more support for social housing.

SVP created a “Hidden Homeless Real Estate Agency” pop-up which was meant to show the public first-hand the poor conditions that hundreds of Irish families have to live in every day.  It had simulated displays of overpriced flats with poor conditions as well as hotel rooms, which many families have to revert to using out of necessity.  The idea for the exhibition was to spread awareness of the issues with the private rent sector and fight for better-priced housing.

The displays were live from Oct. 17th to 18th in South Dublin.

SVP asked passersby to walk through the exhibition then to sign a petition, this petition will be sent to Minister of Housing Simon Coveney.  The petition called for more social housing and further reform on the private sector.  1,400 people have signed the petition as of Nov. 21st.  

SVP’s Head of Social Justice John-Mark McCafferty explained that this success was due to a joint effort.  In the Company of Huskies- a creative agency- suggested the idea to spread awareness on housing rates in Dublin.  Daft.ie, Ireland’s largest property website, have also played a huge role in the campaign.  

You can visit SVP’s Hidden Homeless website here.