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Homeless group now ‘stretched to limit’

The homeless crisis is deepening in urban areas outside of Dublin, with one service provider in Cork City claiming it is “stretched to the limit”.

Figures for June, provided by the Department of Housing, show yet another record number of people homeless across the country, with 68% of those in Dublin.

The situation has worsened in the Mid-West, primarily around Limerick, and in the South-East, taking in Waterford.

The situation has deteriorated in the South-West, across Cork and Kerry.

Analysis of the homeless figures carried out by Cork Simon showed:

  • 317 adults were in emergency accommodation in Cork, up 19.6% in 12 months and 47.4% over two years;
  • The total number of adults and children in emergency accommodation in the South-West is the highest recorded at 685, up 43% in 12 months and 108% in two years;
  • The number of people in hotel rooms and B&Bs outstrips the number of people in the shelter for the sixth consecutive month — up 109.4% in 12 months;
  • The number of women in emergency accommodation in the South-West is at its highest level, at 182 — up 65% in 12 months;
  • 257 children were in emergency accommodation in the South-West— the highest ever recorded and up 56% in 12 months.

 

Paul Sheehan, campaigns and communications manager in Cork Simon, said: “Basically, we have got an emergency shelter that is stretched to the limit.

“We did add 15 very basic beds to get us through winter 2017 and we have kept them open. We have more people who are long-term homeless. People are stuck in emergency accommodation and have no way out.”

Mr Sheehan said that for six months in a row, the number of people in hotels and B&Bs in Cork had exceeded the number in emergency shelters — a reversal of the usual pattern in the city.

“Everything is overstretched,” he said. “Everything is at capacity.”

He referred to quarterly returns provided by local authorities to the department which showed that in 2017 in the South-West, for every one person who left emergency accommodation, two entered the system.

The 15 extra beds, which are mats on the floor, similar to the night cafe operated successfully by Merchants Quay in Dublin, are funded by the department until the end of October and are likely to continue beyond that as part of the next cold weather initiative.

While welcome, Mr Sheehan said there is a fear that it could become the norm.

 

 

Even those in housing are stretched, he continued, pointing out that one third of those using Cork Simon’s nightly soup runs are in private rented accommodation.

“All the money is going to keep the roof over your head,” he said.

In recent days the Inner City Helping Homeless organisation in Dublin has raised the plight of older people entering emergency accommodation including hotels and B&Bs.

Cork Penny Dinners said more money needs to be spent on frontline services following a week in which four of its service users died.