Launch of Simon Communities’ Annual Report 2016

Mercy Law Resource Centre was delighted to attend the launch of Simon Communities’ Annual Report 2016 on 18th December 2017. The report was officially launched by Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. The report is an impressive testament to Simon Communities’ tireless efforts to support the most vulnerable in our society to move and stay out of homelessness, both through the critical services they provide and through offering a much-needed critical voice in their thoughtful policy submissions.

 

Opening the event, Simon Communities’ national spokesperson Niamh Randall noted that around 11,000 people used their services this year, an increase of 33% on the previous year. Niamh noted that these figures reflected the deepening of Ireland’s homelessness crisis, as did the fact the numbers of those in emergency accommodation now stand at 8,000: 5,000 adults and 3,000 children. Niamh emphasized that a key requirement to address this crisis is the need to recognize that housing should not be treated as a commodity, but as a basic human right inextricably linked with the enjoyment of many other core rights, such as health, education, family life and privacy. Niamh observed that in order to prevent further deterioration or repetition of this crisis the State would have to start looking at the “housing and homeless crisis from a human rights based approach”. Simon called on the Government to give a clear decision on whether it will make a commitment on the constitutional right to housing, which would be a good start and would “provide a clear floor of protection in respect of access to basic adequate housing for all.”

 

In her remarks, Emily Logan commended the work of the Simon Communities and emphasized the complementarity between the activity of Simon and the Commission. Both organizations remained concerned at any attempts to normalize homelessness and both shared the view that the “primary policy response to family homelessness must be to ensure that every family has access to permanent suitable accommodation”.

Mercy too would like to commend the tireless work of the Simon Communities and firmly shares its view that any robust response to Ireland’s homelessness crisis must recognize that housing is not a commodity, but a basic human right integral to human well-being and dignified and secure living.

 

 

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