“I was living in institutions from the age of 12. I’m living in a Cork Simon flat now. It’s good to have my own space and be able to cook my own food. My addiction is manageable. Depression has improved due to socialising. I have depression on and off all my life.”
The solution to homelessness is permanent housing with a tailored support package for each person for as long as they need it.
Our Housing Support Team works to a Housing-Led model of tackling homelessness. It means moving people as quickly as possible into permanent housing and providing what ever supports people need, for as long as they need it, so that they can maintain their tenancies and leave homelessness behind them. It means people staying in emergency accommodation only for as long as is necessary. It’s a proven way to end long-term homelessness.
The government’s policy to tackle homelessness adopts a Housing-Led approach. However, there is a severe shortage of housing in Cork – as there is around the country. For a Housing-Led approach to tackle homelessness to be effective it needs an adequate supply of housing that is suitable to people’s needs, and is coupled to a tailored support package.
Our Housing Support Team provides that tailored supprot – visiting people as often as they need, for as long as they need. Supports are based on each person’s needs and include everything from dealing with tenancies, managing health, coping skills, managing money, nutrition, motivation, education & training, etc.
“I find it difficult to find accommodation. Most landlords have stopped taking rent allowance.” – ‘Alan’
We provide housing for twenty-seven people in Cork Simon flats at five separate locations in Cork. We work closely with other social housing providers in Cork – we currently have access to an additional 30 flats. All of these flats are occupied – and there’s a waiting list in operation.
Our Housing Support Team also supports people living in private rented housing. However, people who are homeless face many barriers in accessing the private rented sector. People who are in a position to move out of homelessness are severely disadvantaged: they are often seen as unattractive tenants, with the absolute minimum of financial resources to offer as rent. Negative stereotypes relating to homelessness and alcohol and drug use have led many landlords to the view that renting properties to people who are homeless carries higher risks, further marginalising people who are homeless and leaving them at even greater disadvantage. Delays in processing rent supplement claims, access to money for a deposit and the fact that the payment is not made in advance are further barriers.
In any case there is an ongoing shortage of rented properties available under the maximum rent levels for rent supplement. People who are homeless are being forced to remain in emergency accommodation, sometimes for months on end, because there are simply no properties available for them to move to.
The number of properties available to rent has been in decline for some years. At the same time, rents have been increasing, especially in the cities. Despite the revision in the Maximum Rent Levels for Rent Supplement in June 2013, people who are homeless continue to be priced out of the market. Any properties that are available are generally of poor quality.
We have worked to tackle many of these barriers by working in partnerhsip with other homeless organisations in Cork to establish the Cork Rentals Initiaitve. We lease suitable flats directly from landlords, guarantee the monthly rent and manage the property. We then sub-let the flat to a person ready to leave emergency accommdoation, particularly those who are long-term homeless. We cover the difference between the tenant’s Rent Supplement and the rent for the property.
“On leaving the treatment centre I was homeless. Cork Simon had just opened a rehabilitation house for recovering addicts. They took me in and gave me work to do in the organisation. I would have been lost without them.” – ‘Tim’
People leaving treatment for their alcohol / drug addictions face many of the same barriers to accessing housing as people trying to leave homelessness. In response we established our Aftercare Programme.
The programme aims to provide accommodation and support while people are getting back on their feet. An Addiction Treatment and Aftercare Worker supports people while they are in treatment and puts a housing plan in place for when they leave treatment, so that, having completed the difficult work of treatment, people don’t face a return to homelessness.