Homelessness figures for the south west, Cork, and Kerry have fallen for the third consecutive month, but Cork Simon has expressed fears that there will be a spike when Covid-19 restrictions ease.
There were 718 men, women, and children in emergency accommodation in the region during the last week in April, down 8% (61 people) since March 2020; and down 17% (152 people) in 12 months.
It is the third consecutive month since January to record a decline.
Cork Simon campaigns and communication manager Paul Sheehan said while there was a significant fall (22%) in the number of adults in supported temporary accommodation (emergency shelters) in the south west during April 20 to 26, there was a rise in the number of adults in private emergency accommodation (hotels and B&Bs) in March and April. He said this reflects measures introduced in March to address concerns relating to Covid-19.
“All rooms in Cork Simon’s emergency shelter are now single occupancy to facilitate social distancing and any potential need for self-isolation,” he said. “Similarly, the number of mattresses on the floor of Cork Simon’s Night Light service is also reduced.”
Mr Sheehan said the charity welcomed the fall in the number of people in emergency accommodation and said it was real progress that can be built upon.
“We are concerned, however, that the number of people in hidden homelessness is increasing given additional pressure on families and individuals in overcrowded households and the growth in unemployment.”
Mr Sheehan said it is likely that the housing and homelessness crisis is being masked to some degree by the extraordinary government measures taken in response to the pandemic.
He said that the fall in the number of people in emergency accommodation demonstrates what can be achieved when effective preventative measures are put in place and with excellent collaboration with state agencies.
“The next government has a housing crisis to address and it is critical that we have firm commitments in the next programme for government,” he said. “A comprehensive prevention strategy is necessary to keep as many people as possible in their homes.”