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What is Homelessness?

Simon believes that any person who sleeps rough, lives in emergency accommodation or in inadequate, insecure or unsafe housing is experiencing homelessness.
People sleeping out in doorways, parks, in derelict sites and in abandoned cars experience the most extreme form of homelessness. This is what most of the public think of when they hear the word ’homeless’. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The ’invisible’ homeless, people who live in emergency accommodation, in shelters, hostels, refuges, in B&Bs or double share with friends and relatives, make up about 10 times the number of people sleeping rough. They are also without a home and in need of help.
Being homeless is more than about being without a roof over your head; it’s about a lack of security, lack of belonging, lack of privacy and lack of safety. The experience of homelessness is arguably one of the grossest violations of human rights in developed economies like Ireland.
Homelessness is not, and should never be accepted as, an inevitable outcome for any person.
We believe that homelessness in Ireland can be ended. By an end to homelessness we mean no one will have to sleep rough because of a lack of appropriate services, no one will have to live in emergency accommodation for longer than is an emergency, and no one will become homeless due to a lack of services or inadequate housing provision.
For more info on ending homelessness see: www.makeroom.ie/policy

Why do people become Homeless?

There are a range of factors that can lead to a person becoming homeless which can divided into the following:

Structural causes which can include poverty, unemployment and a lack of quality affordable and appropriate housing

Institutional causes
can include people who have been living in foster care and young people in state care, those who have been in prison or in mental health institutions, people who have been in hospital on a long-term basis or those who have been in the armed forces

Relationship causes
can include people involved in abusive relationships or family breakdown. It can also be due to a death in the family

Personal causes
can include people with mental health issues, learning difficulties and problems with drug and alcohol use

Generally it is a combination of these factors that result in a person becoming homeless. For example of someone lost their job and their relationship broke down, they may have to leave the family home but not be able to afford to rent alternative accommodation.

As you see there is no one cause of homelessness and as a result there is no one solution.

From Simon Communities of Ireland Close to Home. Raising awareness of homelessness. (2010) Post Primary School Enrichment Programme sponsored by EBS