The Simon Communities saw a 26% increase in the number of people it worked with last year, and warned that next year’s figures are likely to be higher again.
The organisation’s 2018 annual report shows that 16,776 people sought help last year, including 2,834 families and 5,331 children.
In addition, 1,738 people accessed emergency accommodation provided by the Simon Communities over the year and there were 19,656 contacts during soup runs provided 365 days a year in Cork and Dublin.
There were also notable increases in other client services — 5,263 people were supported in housing by the Simon Communities, a 56.8% increase since 2017.
The 1,738 people who accessed the charity’s emergency accommodation in 2018 represented a 79.5% increase compared to 2017.
In the report, published today, Simon Communities’ national spokesman Wayne Stanley said that the organisation assisted more people last year than it ever had before, calling the numbers a “startling” increase.
He added: “Worryingly, all the indications are that 2019 numbers will exceed 2018.”
He said the increases are “shocking”, adding that the current crisis should not be accepted as “normal” and required continuous focus.
“We need the State to see ending homelessness as a realistic and urgent necessity,” he said.
This year marks half a century since the foundation of the Simon movement in Ireland, but Mr Stanley said the past decade had seen a quickening of the rate of change, with a growth in family homelessness around the country — even as it begins to slow in Dublin — and “significant increases” in the number of homeless adults without accompanying children in the Dublin region, as well as a rise in rural and long-term homelessness and ‘hidden homelessness’.
“We know that the main driver of homelessness is a critical lack of secure, affordable accommodation,” Mr Stanlely said.
He criticised how the State now views its responsibilities, adding: “Our policy-makers seem to have lost sight of the critical social function of a house as a home.”
The report also shows that 6,380 people accessed food bank services in the MidWest. Some while 1,125 people availed of drug and/or alcohol treatment services and there were 5,674 needle exchange contacts.
A total of 5,263 people were supported in housing with low, medium or high support, depending on need.
Income almost trebled, but expenditure increased by an even faster rate to €2.5m.