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Homelessness Prevention

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Homelessness prevention is central to the ethos of Simon Community NI.  We know that the best thing we can do for people is prevent them from needing our support services in the first place. 

We seek to avoid people experiencing homelessness where possible; but when people do need us, we help them get to a point where they can live independently. Our team prioritises helping people to move on to permanent accommodation.  For some, this can be done relatively quickly, for others it’s a long and challenging process requiring assistance from a number of different organisations

Our prevention team:

  • Works with people at risk to prevent them becoming homeless.
  • Helps people experiencing homelessness to move on to their own home and live independently as quickly as is possible.

When someone needs assistance, the first point of contact is with either our Central Access Point (CAP) team or HOME team staff. At this point, we take time to understand their needs and determine if our services are the best option for them.  Often our teams are able to provide advice and support that helps address the problem or helps them access tailored support.

At the point of crisis, when a person needs our supported accommodation, we work hard to ensure that any placement is suitable to their individual needs. Taking a range of factors into consideration, an assessment is carried out which helps determine the best location for support.

Working alongside the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and other partners, Simon Community NI staff within the HOME team use a Housing First approach to prevent homelessness. Working in partnership helps bring a broader range of resources and expertise together. The approach ensures all the relevant organisations understand the issues facing the individual involved, and that the most appropriate support is provided as quickly as possible.

Included in the range of support offered by our teams is support with future housing and independent living, through social housing or private rental.  Connecting with local housing offices, landlords and rental agencies, our experienced teams help people find a new home and gain the skills and confidence required to maintain that home.

Last year across Belfast and Lisburn, almost three quarters (74.5%) of people supported by the HOME team (204 people in total) were able to move on from our services in a positive way, either to their own homes or back with their families.

James* presented at the Housing Executive to make a homeless application, and it was obvious to the team that a temporary hostel would not be suitable to his current needs. Instead, intensive work was done to secure a temporary tenancy within a Simon Community NI move-on flat to avoid the client being placed in a hostel environment. Joint work was then completed by both parties to ensure that the client’s housing options were realistic and tangible. With the client’s agreement, their areas of choice were changed and an offer was received within two and half weeks. Rather than the client moving into temporary hostel accommodation – which would have impacted their mental health – they were supported in their own temporary tenancy and received realistic options that ensured a quick move-on. The client will be supported in their own tenancy by the Homeless Prevention Team for 8 weeks to ensure a smooth transition to independent living, and that their support needs are met by our floating support partners.

* Identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.