One new person is becoming homeless every day in the west and is forced to seek emergency accommodation, according to figures that have been described as shocking by Galway Simon Community.
The charity has said that with 458 people in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland, an increase of 37 people on the previous month, it is shocking that so many families will have to spend Christmas with no home.
The number of families in emergency accommodation has increased by 57 per cent compared to the same period last year, with 77 families including 167 children now living in emergency accommodation in the west of Ireland.
“It’s shocking that this number of families and children will have to spend Christmas with no home to go to. Back in 2014, there were only 36 people recorded as being in emergency accommodation and that figure has shot up to 458 in just four years. Given the slow pace at which new housing is coming on stream, we believe the crisis will continue to worsen, before it starts to improve,” says Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community.
'The numbers in emergency accommodation are just the tip of the iceberg – they do not include rough sleepers, couch surfers or those involuntarily sharing'
She says that it is not acceptable that so many children are having to wake up every day in emergency accommodation and that a greater focus needs to be placed on prevention. “Emergency accommodation is supposed to be a temporary solution but more and more, people are having to spend longer periods of time living with the stress and trauma of an emergency response, because there is just simply nowhere for them to move on to. Rents have increased by 41 per cent over the last three years in Galway. Very few household incomes have increased by a similar percentage over this period and consequently, the rising cost of renting is putting huge pressure on individuals and families,” says Ms Golden.
“The numbers in emergency accommodation are just the tip of the iceberg – they do not include rough sleepers, couch surfers or those involuntarily sharing. We are currently working with approximately 350 households, yet less than twenty of these would be included in the emergency accommodation figures. We acknowledge that providing an emergency response is essential to allow people to have a place to stay while they are trying to secure long-term accommodation. However, it is supposed to be a very short term solution but in reality, this is not the case. Individuals and families end up spending long periods of time in emergency accommodation because they have no move on options. Children stuck in this kind of accommodation are having their childhoods taken away from them.”
“It’s essential more of a focus is placed on preventing people from having to access emergency accommodation in the first place. Our prevention team here at Galway Simon helps those at risk of becoming homeless to either sustain the tenancy they already have or to secure another tenancy, before they lose their home. If we can prevent people from having to access emergency accommodation in hostels, B&Bs and hotels, the outcomes are so much better – adults and children alike do not have to experience the stress and trauma of this uncertain environment”.