The number of rough-sleepers in Cork has hit an all-time high, rising by 800% in the last four years writes Kelly O’Brien .
Last year, a staggering 345 people slept rough on the streets of Cork, compared to just 38 people in 2011 — an almost tenfold increase.
The figures are to be released today, as part of the Cork Simon Community annual report.
The homelessness charity supported 1,300 people last year and said demand for services is higher than it has ever been.
Dermot Kavanagh, director of Cork Simon, revealed the charity’s emergency shelter on Anderson’s Quay has been operating at 114% capacity — 50 people are nightly staying in the 44-bed shelter.
The average stay in the shelter is now 46 nights. That’s the longest average stay Cork Simon has recorded in more than 10 years.
“Last year was our busiest year ever. The number of people turning to us for help was enormous,” said Mr Kavanagh.
“The single biggest issue, at the moment, is the sheer number of people who are finding themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness.
We have a major housing crisis in the country. Properties cannot be found to rent, properties cannot be found to buy, and it’s having a huge impact.”
So far this year, Cork Simon records show 200 people have slept rough. If these numbers persist, the number of rough-sleepers in Cork is likely to exceed 400 by the end of December.
Cork North Central Mick Barry said that the figures were a damning indictment of the lack of priority which this issue has been given by this and the previous government.
The Anti-Austerity Alliance TD said that immediate measures like rent controls and a ban on economic evictions should be introduced to stop more people becoming homeless.
This article first appeared in the Evening Echo.