Oireachtas Reports on Child Homelessness and it's Impact

Sophia warmly welcomes The Child and Family Homelessness report by the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government and The Impact of Homelessness on Children report, by the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs.  
These reports have brought forward positive solutions to how Government should have the best interests and needs of families at the centre to ending homelessness.
The ending of one night only emergency accommodation is at the heart of the Sophia Model. Our service was founded on the knowledge that people need not just a bed for the night but a home for life. 
Through our nurturing centres and wrap around holistic supports Sophia also fundamentally agrees with the recommendation that the best interests of the child must be taken into account by Local Authorities when providing homeless accommodation and supports. Sophia is lucky to work with a number of Local Authorities across the country who share our vision and who see the needs of homeless families and the model of work here in Sophia as being a positive solution to these needs. Both national and local government have backed Sophia financially to grow our services to reach even more people in the coming years. 
Sophia does not own or operate family hubs, we again see long term supported accommodation as being key to helping families breaking a cycle of homelessness. The commissioning of an independent evaluation into the sustainability of family hubs and introducing reforms to improve the wellbeing of homeless children are particularly welcome recommendations. 
A rights based approach to housing is something that Sophia advocates for along with our European Partners in SMES Europa and changes to the laws and constitution in Ireland to recognises the right to housing. 
Sophia is growing its services to reach more of the most vulnerable in irish society, the provision of housing, affordable, social and supported are all needed to reverse the ever growing levels of homelessness in Ireland. Sophia looks forward to actions based on todays recommendations to bring much needed support to those most affected by the housing and homelessness crisis in ireland. 

Homeless Figures In Ireland Are Not Normal

For eight months the number of people homeless in Ireland has been over 10,000 p. For the month of September once again a record number of people in this country are homeless 10,397. That is more than the population of Gorey who have no home in Ireland today, more people homeless than the population of Tuam who are homeless in Ireland today, almost twice the population of Kinsale who have no home in Ireland today.

This is not normal or acceptable in Ireland today.

Of those who are homeless 3873 are children and 2743 are women meaning that the majority 63% of all homeless people in Ireland are women and children. This is not normal this is not acceptable.

It is also worth reminding everyone that these figures do not include people who are rough sleeping or the hidden homeless in Ireland or many others who when added to the official figures would gives a true picture of how Ireland is treating the most vulnerable in our society today.

Sophia’s model of housing with supports gives people the dignity of living in a home of their own along with the wrap around supports needed to recover from the trauma of homelessness. Our model helps people maintain a tenancy and break the cycle of homelessness. 

This is a model that works and one that is being backed by local and national government and by Religious Congregations to grow over the coming years to support hundreds of more families across Ireland. This is normal, this is the Ireland that we need to be, supporting and counting the most vulnerable in our society and helping bring homelessness to an end in Ireland.


Symposium on Global Family Homelessness New York

On October 17th a Symposium organised by UNANIMA International was held in New York. Sophia were delighted to be invited to speak at the symposium and to highlight Ireland’s Homeless Crisis and the efforts in place to support people to move out of the chaos and trauma of homeless and into a supported home of their own in Sophia Housing.

This event brought together a diverse group of speakers to explore the interlinking drivers of homelessness specifically through the lens of women and children/girls globally.

Women and children are profoundly affected by homelessness. It is well documented that family homelessness is a growing social problem affecting women and children around the world. In Ireland we already know that the majority of people who are homeless are part of a homeless family, and that the majority of people who are homeless are women and children.

Lailani Farha, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing. She has been outspoken on the financialization and commodification of housing globally. Earlier this year her office sent the Irish Government a letter which was highly critical of it’s polices and responses to homelessness in Ireland.

Chris Williams is the Director of the New York office of UN-Habitat, the organization of the United Nations which is responsible for housing and urban development.

Renata Kaczmarska works with the UN Focal Point on the Family – She is an expert in family policies which are supported by the Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically areas focussing on family poverty reduction, social protection and intergenerational issues. 

Fr Guillermo Campuzano representan the Congregation of The Mission, he is the chair of the United Nations Working Group to End Homelessness

Elizabeth Madden, is a Cork based Community Activist who works with the Cork Anti Poverty Network and with Men Overcoming Violence.

Kirin Taylor is the lead researcher with Unanima International for their Global Family homeless research project, which Sophia is also playing a lead role. 

John McEvoy is the Projects Manager with Sophia Housing, co author of Dignity and Well Being Practical Approaches to working with Homeless People with Mental Health Support Needs and the lead coordinator with Sophia on the UNANIMA Global Research Project on Family Homelessness. 

Caoimhe Ni Chonchúir represented the Irish Mission to the UN at the event.

In the 75 Years that the UN has existed it has never discussed homelessness, October’s event is a precursor to February next year when Affordable Housing and Social Protection Systems for all to Address Homelessness will finally be discussed at the UN.

Having the voice of Sophia be heard at the symposium and the forthcoming February event is a testament to the incredible work carried out by the staff of Sophia and the model of care and support on which the organisation was foudned over 20 years ago. It is clear that this response, providing affordable secure housing with supports that aim to address the needs of the most vulnerable in Irish society is a response that works. Sophia currently supports 79% more people than it did in 2016, over the coming years we will continue to grow our service to meet the needs of even more people across Ireland.

To watch a stream of the symposium on the UNANIMA International Facebook page click here: