Galway Simon Community has responded to the latest emergency accommodation figures released saying that it is heartbreaking that 81 families in the West of Ireland, including 179 children, spent December in emergency accommodation. This is more than double the number of families who were in emergency accommodation in the West a year ago.

Overall, the figures for December 2018 reveal that there were 505 people living in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland, a 41% increase compared to December 2017. The biggest surge since 2017 was in the number of families which rose from 39 to 81, a massive 107% increase.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said that it’s unacceptable that so many have no choice but to stay in emergency accommodation over Christmas.

“It’s a tragic situation to have so many people living in emergency accommodation during what should be a happy and peaceful time of the year for families and individuals. For the hundreds of people who had to spend the Christmas period living out of a hotel room, hostel or B&B, December was full of uncertainty and trauma.

“What is most alarming about these figures is that they continue to double year on year. The numbers have increased from 18 families in emergency accommodation in the west in December 2016 to 39 families in December 2017 and to 81 families in December 2018. We would hate to think that we could have 160 families in emergency accommodation by Christmas 2019.

“2018 was a very challenging year for those facing homelessness. It was also very challenging for organisations like Galway Simon who are supporting those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. With the availability of safe and affordable housing continuing to diminish, it is increasingly difficult to support clients to find suitable accommodation so that they can move out of homelessness.

“Sadly, if the Government does not take urgent action, we fear it’s going to continue to get worse before it gets better. The Government target for new social housing builds in Galway was 160 for 2018. Up until September, only 37 new social homes had been completed. With 3,547 households on the social housing waiting list in Galway, this is totally inadequate.

“We started out 2018 with 367 people living in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland, and now that has shot up to 505 people. This increase was reflected in the demand for services at Galway Simon Community. Over the course of the year our homelessness prevention and housing services supported 550 households, including 132 families with 292 children. We anticipate that 2019 will be even more challenging.

“Behind each of these numbers is a human story, a person experiencing the trauma of homelessness or the threat of homelessness. With pressure on housing continuing to increase in Galway, we will continue to support those who seek our help in the coming year.”

Friday 1st February 2019