Homeless charity Galway Simon Community has expressed concerns that Youth Homelessness is increasing in Galway and is urging the new government to urgently address the homelessness and housing crisis.

According to recent figures released by the Government, 503 people were reported as living in Emergency Accommodation in the West of Ireland during May, including 72 families. 235 of those currently in Emergency Accommodation in the West are children and young adults under the age of 24, representing 47% of the total number.

The number of 18-24 year olds in Emergency Accommodation increased by 18% compared to May of last year. Galway Simon Community says it is seeing first-hand the increase in young adults experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Galway. From January to May of this year, Galway Simon’s Youth Homelessness Prevention Service alone supported 29 unique households, including 4 families; almost double the number for the same period in 2019. In addition to this, the charity also supported a further 42 people between the ages of 18 and 25 in their other Prevention and Housing services.

While Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, welcomed the decline in the overall numbers, she raised concerns that homelessness will increase again due to the economic fallout from Covid-19.

“It is very welcome to see a small decline in the overall number of people in Emergency Accommodation in the West, however, this is unfortunately not a trend we are seeing within our own services. Of particular concern is the rise in Youth Homelessness over the last year. We are seeing more young people than ever turning to Galway Simon for help. It is critically important that we can support young adults when they are in crisis to help them find a path that keeps them out of Emergency Accommodation and entrenched homelessness,” Karen said.

Karen Golden highlighted the positive collaboration between statutory and voluntary organisations that has taken place in Galway since COVID-19 and urged the new Government to “build on this collaborative approach to urgently address the housing and homelessness crisis”.

“We welcome the recent passing of the vote on the programme for government and the appointment of new Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien. There has been a huge effort locally and nationally to ensure that those experiencing homelessness could remain safe during COVID-19. Preventative measures such as the moratorium on evictions and rent freezes also demonstrated the willingness of the Government to take action during the pandemic. These actions have highlighted that if we build on this collaborative work between local authorities, the HSE and NGO’s like Galway Simon Community, we can make huge inroads into the homelessness crisis. We now need a government response that brings the same level of commitment, collaboration and focus to ending homelessness for those in Emergency Accommodation and the many thousands more experiencing hidden homelessness across the country,” Karen added.

Tuesday 29th June 2020