Cork homelessness at crisis levels as numbers sleeping rough quadruple

The full extent of Cork City’s escalating rough sleeping and homelessness crisis has been laid bare.

Shocking new figures from Cork Simon show a staggering four-fold increase in the number of people sleeping rough in the city since 2011.

There has been a 16% rise in the number of people supported by the charity, an 11% increase in the number of people staying at its emergency shelter, and a 30% increase in demand for day services, outreach and drug prevention services.

This has all occurred against the backdrop of a decline in the charity’s income while expenditure increased.

It will prompt renewed calls from Cork Simon today for urgent government action in the short-term to address the housing shortage. Rent supplement levels also need to be addressed, Cork Simon director, Dermot Kavanagh said.

“More people are sleeping rough, more people are ending up stuck in emergency accommodation for far too long, and there’s more and more pressure on existing homeless services,” he said.

“We are asking the Government to do more in the short-term to ensure that rent supplement levels no longer act as a barrier to people who are homeless accessing housing. People deserve better.”

The stark figures are contained in its 2013 annual report which will be launched today by Tánaiste Joan Burton. Mr Kavanagh said 2013 had been a year characterised by a big rise in homelessness, a trend which continued this year.

The figures show that despite extra beds coming on stream in 2013, the numbers sleeping rough increased to 174 people — an 8% increase on 2012 and a remarkable 358% increase on the 2011 figures.

That alarming trend has continued this year, with a 62% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in the city so far this year.

Nearly half of all people staying at Cork Simon’s emergency shelter in 2013 were first-time residents, a 29% increase on 2012.

Mr Kavanagh welcomed the increases in funding for homeless services announced in the recent budget, and some of the measures in the Government’s Social Housing Strategy published this week.

“There’s now some hope, in the long-term, the current housing crisis will be under control,” he said. “But right now, however, there simply isn’t enough housing.”

Costs are close to €7m a year to staff, run and maintain Cork Simon Community’s services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The charity recorded income of just over €6.5m in 2013, down from just over €6.7m the previous year, while its expenditure rose from €6.9m to just over €7.3m last year.

While 55% of its funding comes from the State, just over a third comes from donors, with 87 cents in every euro being spent directly on activities aimed at ending homelessness. Facts and figures

Cork Simon’s 2013 annual report shows that the charity supported 1,187 people during the year — a 16% increase on 2012. The report also shows:

-174 people slept rough in the city — up from 38 in 2011;

-454 people used its emergency shelter, up 11% on the previous year;

-605 people used its day services — up 30%;

-545 engaged with the outreach team — up 33%;

-766 people were supported by the soup run — up 29%;

-80 people engaged with the youth homeless drug prevention programme — up 31%;

-196 people used a housing support service — up 17%.


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