Homeless charity Galway Simon Community has warned that the homelessness crisis is worse now than at any other time in the 40 years since the organisation was founded and they fear it will continue to get worse before it starts to improve. According to the charity, the number of households they have supported so far this year has increased by 20% on the same period in 2018 and is the highest number of households they have ever supported.

585 households, representing 1,069 adults and children, were supported by Galway Simon Community’s services from January to October of this year. This is more households than the charity supported in all of 2018. According to the charity, the majority of this increase has been in the demand for their Homelessness Prevention Services across the city and county.

The latest emergency accommodation figures released by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government showed there were 561 people in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland in September of this year, including 89 families and 213 children. Of these, approximately 24 people who were supported by Galway Simon Community’s Temporary Emergency Service would have been included in the overall figures.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, highlighted the scale of the deepening crisis and explained why prevention work must be prioritised.

“Already this year Galway Simon has supported more households than we did in the whole of 2018. Unfortunately this crisis is widespread across the city and county and we are seeing this on a day to day basis in our services through increased referrals. People are being left with no options, many having to sleep rough or in cars, on sofas of loved ones or enter into emergency accommodation. The trauma being experienced by people facing homelessness is horrendous.

“The emergency accommodation figures reported on each month do not represent the true extent of the homelessness crisis. Only a very small number of the people that we support are represented in these figures. To date, we have not seen the urgent action that this crisis requires. Due to this, our frontline services are anticipating an even further increase in homelessness over the coming months.

“The private rental market is not meeting the needs of our local community, and in particular those who are relying on housing benefits. Many people are having to choose between everyday necessities like food, heat and electricity and paying their rent. This coupled with the slow pace of social housing build means there is a greater need for homelessness prevention services than ever before. It is critical that the Government recognises this urgent need and that they invest in homelessness prevention to ensure that people can remain in the homes they have or secure another tenancy before they slide into emergency accommodation. We know that prevention services greatly reduce the trauma experienced by those affected by homelessness and prevention is a much more cost effective solution to homelessness than covering the escalating costs of Emergency Accommodation in hostels, hotels and B&Bs.”

4th November 2019