Galway Simon Community has raised concerns about the worsening homelessness and housing crisis warning that youth homelessness is on the rise.

According to recent figures released by the Government, 236 of those currently in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland are children and youth’s under the age of 24, representing 44% of the total number of people in emergency accommodation. During July of this year, 535 people were reported as living in emergency accommodation, including 80 families and 185 children.

Since July 2015, there has been a four-fold increase in the number of people living in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland, with the majority of those residing in Galway. In the same period, only 152 social houses have been built in Galway. The focus of social housing delivery has been through Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) schemes which are delivered through the private rental sector, which cannot cope with the current demand for accommodation.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community highlighted the impact of the crisis on children and young people, and the pressure on the private rental sector. “Over the last four years, there has been just over a four-fold increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland, and unfortunately, young people are amongst those increasingly being affected by this crisis”, Karen said.

Homelessness can have a long term effect on children and young people throughout their lives, if not addressed early on. Karen explained the importance of early intervention with young people and how Galway Simon’s Youth Service, which provides services to Young Adults (18-25), is seeing more demand than ever.

“Our frontline workers see the effects first hand that homelessness is having on young people and children and this is why we continue to focus on Prevention Services.  It is critically important that, wherever possible, we support young people to ensure that they do not have to experience the trauma of homelessness. Our dedicated Youth Service focuses on early intervention with young people, to prevent them from falling into the cycle of homelessness. For those who are already without a home, our Youth Service has a transitional accommodation service where young people can stay. Each young person is supported to enhance their independent living skills and to access opportunities in education and employment. Since it was started in 2016, the demand for this service has increased year on year as more young adults experience, or are at risk of, homelessness”, Karen explained.

Wednesday 4th September 2019