What Ireland can learn about homelessness from other countries was discussed at a conference in Cork yesterday.
The Cork Simon Community hosted the conference in The Imperial Hotel in a bid to find new ways to prevent homelessness.
At the event, a report was released on what they learned from other nations that have developed strategies to reduce the number of people on the streets.
Titled “Preventing Homelessness: A Review of the International Evidence”, the report shows what other nations are doing to prevent homelessness and how those methods can be incorporated in Ireland.
Speakers from UCC, the University of York and Executive Director from American mental health charity Pathways Vermont attended the conference.
Professor Nicholas Pleace from the University of York reviewed international evidence of successful homelessness prevention in other nations, while Executive Director of Pathways Vermont Hilary Melton discussed the work that they do in finding homes for those on the streets.
The topic of drugs and alcohol and how it affects the homeless throughout Europe was discussed by Cork Simon Community spokesperson Dermot Kavanagh, while UCC lecturer Joe Finnerty spoke of the same issue in relation to Ireland.
The report highlights key areas where there can be improvements to the service provided to the homeless, with three key elements singled out: That there is a clear need for investment in more social and affordable housing nationwide, also the need for integrated preventative homelessness services like rapid re-housing and that there needs to be more mental health support for those struggling with housing issues.
Speaking about the conference and the new report, National Simon Community spokesperson Paul Sheehan said: "As this report highlights, it is essential that prevention be part of an integrated homelessness strategy, and for it to be effective, it must have the flexibility to adapt to people’s needs.
"Homelessness and housing insecurity is traumatic, stressful and unfair, but we know that people can avoid homelessness when provided with the right supports. We must heed the lessons learned from other countries in tackling homelessness: stopping it from happening is the best way to avoid the very great human and financial costs that can accompany this extreme form of poverty and exclusion.”