Addressing homelessness
17th May 2019
Proposing an alternative
17th May 2019
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Responding to acute need

All hands together at a sports day organised at Marquis Drive, Dungarvan

Respond believes that every person has the right to a secure, affordable home that meets their needs throughout their lifetime, writes Niamh Randall, Head of Advocacy and Communications.

Respond, a not-for-profit housing association, has been working all around Ireland for over 36 years. We firmly believe that housing and decent accommodation in the areas where people want to live are central to improving people’s lives and enhancing the health and well-being of society. Every secure home is a step in the right direction for the individuals and families who need them. We see this every day; we also see the devastating impact of being without a home in our work with families who are homeless.

We are proactively responding to the housing and homelessness crisis providing real on-the-ground solutions and we are working hard to identify ways to support people to move out of homelessness into secure homes quickly. We own and manage 4,502 homes across the 26 countries in Ireland where approximately 9,000 tenants live. Housing associations, with a sole focus on alleviating housing need, are uniquely placed to support central and local government to deliver social housing and have a strong record in both delivering and managing social housing.

In Respond, we place emphasis on acute need and on the provision of support for tenants to lead fruitful lives in vibrant communities. We provide emergency accommodation with support for families who are homeless in six Family Hubs, where our goal is to support families to move into secure homes as quickly as possible leaving homelessness behind.

Our experience to date indicates that families experiencing homelessness often need ongoing, wraparound support in relation to access to housing, mental and physical health services, family or parenting support and a range of other issues. We also continue to work with families once they have moved on to ensure the sustainability of these exits. In addition to housing and related work, we also provide Day Care Services for Older People, Early Education, Childcare, Family Support and Resettlement services.

A development of eight apartments for older persons and persons with disability funded through Capital Assistance Scheme in partnership with DCC and DHPLG under Rebuilding Ireland.

Our Strategic Plan 2019-2023 has seven goals:

• Goal 1: Respond, with government support, will, through a programme of multi-faceted delivery, have increased the number of social homes in Ireland by at least 2,500 over the lifetime of the Strategic Plan;

• Goal 2: In seeking to improve lives, Respond will place our tenants, residents in emergency accommodation and service users at the centre of our work and we will focus on positive outcomes and satisfaction for tenants and service users;

• Goal 3: To support households and individuals experiencing homelessness on their journey back to independent living, Respond will provide safe and secure housing in the short-term in the form of supported temporary emergency accommodation;

• Goal 4: We will seek to develop an expertise in and deliver affordable housing for those for whom the market rates are too high;

• Goal 5: Respond will maintain a strong and prudent financial foundation underpinned by a risk-conscious approach to our business;

• Goal 6: In pursuit of social justice Respond will be a high-performing, results-driven, accountable organisation which values our staff and those we work with; and

• Goal 7: Respond will be an effective voice with and for people in need of housing, homelessness and support services in order to effect positive change in their lives and will be respected and trusted by our partners.

The principles which guide our work each and every day are:

A Human Right to Housing: Respond believes that every human being is equal in rights and dignity and has the right to a secure, affordable home which meets their needs throughout their lifetime. Respond will strive to ensure that the services we provide are inclusive, empowering and value the human rights of the people we work with and support.

Social Justice: All our initiatives will focus on creating a more just and equal society. We will seek to identify the root cause of social problems and, where we can, seek to address these through the deployment of our resources, expertise and energies. As a not-for-profit organisation, Respond will be measured by the positive impact we have on the lives of the individuals, families and communities we serve and our wider contribution to the well-being of Irish society.

The current housing and homelessness crisis can be overcome; it must be overcome. We intend to play a significant role in ensuring that substantial progress is made in reducing housing lists and providing decent homes for many thousands of people. We will do this by providing up to 2,500 new social homes over the next five years, setting up more Family Hubs where needed as short term interventions, and displaying innovation and imagination through devising new models and arrangements to tackle the crisis.

This will be achieved through meaningful partnership and collaboration with government departments and agencies, local authorities, other Approved Housing Bodies, builders and developers. We know how important a secure home is to the quality of life of individuals and families and we see first-hand the devastating impact of homelessness in our work with families who are homeless.

Our long-term aim is to provide lifetime social and affordable homes to a far greater proportion of the population, bringing Ireland more into line with our European neighbours where people from all walks of life live in housing association developments side by side.

Niamh.randall@respond.ie
T: 01 808 7700 
W: www.respond.ie
Twitter: @respondhousing