Threshold and the New York City Department of Homeless Services last night launched an exchange programme between Ireland and the City of New York to share best practice solutions to ending homelessness. The ‘New York/Ireland Homelessness and Housing Exchange’ was launched at the Irish Consulate in New York by the Irish Consul General, Tim O’Connor, and Deputy Mayor of New York, Linda Gibbs.
Speaking at the launch, Patrick Burke, Director of Threshold said:
“This new partnership offers both Ireland and the U.S. the benefit of accumulated wisdom and experience on how to effectively address the needs of people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Our shared goal of eradicating homelessness will be brought even closer by working together in the spirit of mutual co-operation, understanding, support and success.”
Both Threshold and New York City Department of Homeless Services share the common goal of ending homelessness. The Department of Homeless Services has many years experience in developing programmes for people at risk or who experience homelessness, including street outreach services for rough sleepers, supportive housing for homeless mentally ill people and disabled people, and homeless prevention programmes in high-risk communities. Threshold in Ireland provides housing information, advice and support services to people at risk of homelessness. Threshold also runs the Access Housing Unit, a successful placement service that helps homeless people in Dublin to move out of emergency hostels and shelters and into private rented accommodation.
The exchange programme will promote learning and sharing of expertise on tackling homelessness and will also examine how successful models may be replicated. The programme will include:
Joint research projects that promote a greater understanding of homelessness
Sharing best practice models to tackle homelessness
Exchange visits by staff from both agencies to promote joint learning
A focus on creating strong leadership in both agencies
Both agencies are seeking to have specific questions answered through the exchange programme. The York City Department of Homeless Services would like to understand: How does Ireland define and measure homelessness? What services are available to homeless people? How prevalent is mental illness and substance misuse among the homeless population and what treatment systems are in place? It is also interested in learning more about the rent supplement scheme, which is the Irish Government’s scheme to help people experiencing poverty with the costs of renting. Threshold wants to learn more about New York’s initiatives to provide longer-term public housing for homeless people, particularly single people, because this group currently faces the greatest challenge in getting housing in Ireland.