Thursday 14th June
The Simon Communities in Ireland came together to start a national debate on the need for housing to be a constitutionally protected right at their conference, ‘Making the Case for a Right to Housing’ last Monday.
UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, keynote speaker at the event, said what she sees unfolding in Ireland is tragic and serious, but solvable. She spoke about the homelessness and housing crisis being a “human rights violation” and said that a human rights response was needed, going on to say that “governments are accountable to the people”.
Other speakers at the event included Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Senator Colette Kelleher and Niamh Randall of the Simon Communities who all advocated for the need for making housing a constitutional right in Ireland.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said now is the time to start the conversation. “With almost 10,000 people in emergency accommodation across the country and many more hidden homeless and in homeless services, it’s clear that the measures taken to date have not worked. We are in danger of normalising homelessness, which is absolutely anything but normal. We believe it’s time to deliver greater protections and obligations to people experiencing homelessness in Ireland.
“A right to housing is not about the Government ensuring home ownership for everyone, this is an unrealistic expectation. In practical terms what this means is that the Government is obliged to ensure that everyone has access to adequate housing and that they fulfil this right. Eighty-one countries around the world have already constitutionally protected the right to housing.
“We need to shift away from emergency-led responses to a statutory homelessness preventative model underpinned by government obligations to respect, protect and fulfil citizens’ basic right to adequate housing.
“We hope that as part of our national Simon Communities network, we can contribute to the ongoing conversation about the need for housing as a right and the possible routes to deliver greater protections and obligations to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Ireland. It is our firm belief that everyone must be entitled to a safe, secure and affordable home appropriate to their needs. Making housing a right provides a guarantee this vision can be fulfilled,” said Karen.