Bedsits not the long term solution to homelessness says SVP

05/12/2014

A return to bedsits as a way of alleviating the homeless situation is not acceptable, says the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) following its attendance at the homeless forum last night.

Housing families in hotels is not working says SVP and using bedsits would be equally wrong.

"The current crisis requires a cool, strategic approach and avoid knee-jerk reactions such as the recent call for the re-instatement of bedsits.

This would be a retrograde step and would not significantly increase supply. It would serve to further undermine the case for quality physical standards in the sector, " said John-Mark McCafferty, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy.

He said that while the forum yesterday was useful in underlining a sense of urgency regarding rough sleeping in Dublin, the key policies needed are greatly increased provision of social housing and affordable, quality private rented accommodation.

Mr McCafferty said, "SVP Conference Visitation to households in need across the city, and our network of homeless services across the state provide us with a unique perspective on homelessness and relevant policy solutions.  

"We believe that Dublin is a bell-weather for what will happen in other parts of the country over time, especially Cork and Limerick. Rough sleeping has increased in Cork and in one of our Cork hostels, 13 people are on a waiting list.

"As supply reduces, rents are increasing and rent allowance caps are increasingly out of touch with rents – particularly in areas immediately outside of the four Dublin local authorities – Wicklow, Kildare and Meath."

The SVP believes that the long-term solution to homelessness is social housing provision with ‘wrap-around’ supports and access to quality, affordable private rented accommodation.  There are many people in emergency accommodation with whom SVP have worked  who could be living independently or with tenancy support, but who remain in hostels due to the lack of appropriate accommodation.

There are five co-ordinated actions that need to be taken, says SVP.:

  1. Implementation of the new Social Housing Strategy immediately, tackling the issue of vacant units (voids) in social housing developments.  Addressing vacant units must be front-loaded in the social housing strategy from the beginning of 2015, while still ensuring that these units are of reasonable quality and thermal efficiency
  2. Replicate the Dublin Rent Supplement protocol beyond Dublin, this model assists people in private rented accommodation with a helpline. Rent Supplement increases where appropriate, and supports to people in emergency accommodation.
  3. Continue the roll-out of the Homeless Strategy by funding and co-ordinating effective, safe emergency services and accommodation, which avoid duplication of effort and identify and fill gaps in service provision. This requires enhanced co-ordination between voluntary providers – but it also requires funds to much needed services currently struggling.
  4. Resource sufficient levels of tenancy sustainment and other wrap-around supports for people moving out of emergency accommodation.
  5. Design and implementation of measures to create increased levels of affordable private rented accommodation, of reasonable physical quality and energy efficiency, and raise awareness of the existing rights of tenants, including security of tenure. Rent supplement caps will need to increase in urban areas and some system of ‘rent certainty’ is required for tenants.

“We should not return to bedsits, or other measures which compromise the physical quality of private rented housing. This will not solve homelessness and only serves private interests at the expense of vulnerable families and individuals,” added John-Mark McCafferty.

 

 

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