The number of people accessing emergency accommodation in the west is at record levels, says local charity Galway Simon Community.
The latest figures released from the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government showed there were 561 people in emergency accommodation in the west of Ireland in March of this year, including 85 families and 213 children.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said the situation on the ground is continuing to worsen and is calling on local election candidates to put housing and homelessness at the top of their agenda.
“Homelessness is still very much on the increase in our community. Yet again we have another record high of people staying in emergency accommodation, with more families and children entering into homelessness each month. However, when you take into account the number of people that Galway Simon Community are supporting who fall outside of these figures, it is obvious that the crisis is far greater than these figure suggest.
“In the first three months of the year, our homelessness prevention and housing services supported 392 households. Far too many women, men, young people and children are experiencing the trauma of homelessness.”
Galway Simon is calling on those who do have a vote, to lend their voice to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the run up to the election.
The homeless charity has just launched a booklet as part of their Journey Home campaign, ahead of the local elections. The booklet, The Journey Home: Galway’s homelessness and housing crisis, and what you can do about it, aims to provide people with the information they need to advocate on behalf of those experiencing homelessness, when they are approached by canvassers and candidates in the forthcoming election.
The booklet provides information for them to do this, highlighting increasing numbers accessing Emergency Accommodation, the extreme lack of housing available and the spiralling rental sector in Galway.
Ms Golden said; “Lack of affordable and social housing remains the biggest challenge facing our services. Our support staff and volunteer teams on the ground are finding it extremely difficult to source housing that is affordable and that will enable people to maintain their tenancies into the future, without the looming fear of homelessness.
“The crisis is worse now than at any other time in the 40 years since Galway Simon was founded. Urgent action is needed to ensure that our community does not have to go through further years of this crisis. We would urge local election candidates to ensure that housing and homelessness is an urgent priority in their manifestos. We have a long way to go to meet the needs of those in homeless services, as well as those who are on the social housing waiting list. At Galway Simon we continue to place our focus on preventing people from slipping into homelessness and on supporting those who are experiencing the trauma of being without a home.”