Families on verge of ending up on streets

The number of families on the brink of homelessness nationally has risen by 84% since January, while Cork has experienced a seven-fold increase from 2011 to 2014 in those forced to sleep on the streets.

More than one family and one single person became homeless every day last month, according to the latest Government figures which the Simon Communities in Ireland described as “devastating”.

The latest nationwide emergency accommodation figures released by the Department of Environment show there has been further increases in adults, families, and children who are stuck in emergency accommodation. These amount to 4,999 in all, among them 738 families made up of 980 adults and 1,571 children.

According to the latest count, 2,448 single people are currently staying in emergency accommodation.

Niamh Randall, national spokeswoman for the Simon Communities, said the fact the numbers continue to rise was very disturbing.

“These latest nationwide emergency accommodation figures from September highlight the growing movement of more and more people from housing into homelessness. This is completely unacceptable,” said Ms Randall.

Families on verge of ending up on streets

The numbers continue to be highest in Dublin, with 2,230 adults, and 637 families with 1,343 children, trapped in emergency accommodation.

Numbers are also growing in other parts of the country with a 33% increase in the Mid East, a 31% increase in the West, and 19% in the South East since January.

According to Simon, these figures do not include rough sleepers, people living in squats and more “hidden homelessness” which involves people staying with family and friends.

“We know for example that rough sleeping has increased seven-fold in three years, from 2011 to 2014, in Cork City,” said Ms Randall.

“We warned that there would be an increase in homelessness if rent supplement was not increased and rent certainty was not introduced. We are now seeing the results of the Government failing to take action on these issues.

“Such measures have been recommended by the Government advisory body the National Economic and Social Council. That these proposals have been blocked at a time when there is such limited social housing supply is appalling.

“Without such measures people will continue to find rents unaffordable and will continue to be pushed over the edge into homelessness.”

Families on verge of ending up on streets

Ms Randall said the Simon charity was hugely disappointed with the budget last Tuesday which, it says, missed an opportunity to call a halt to the numbers of people experiencing the stress and trauma of homelessness and housing instability.

“Looking to the future, we are really concerned — where will people and families go?” said Ms Randall. “We urgently need to move away from an emergency-led response, we can’t just keep offering people short-term solutions with little attention paid to their longer-term needs.

“The solutions to this crisis are preventing people from becoming homeless and providing access to affordable, permanent housing with support.”

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