Cork Simon has called for the Rebuilding Ireland plan to be “seriously reviewed” as the latest figure show a 60% national increase in homelessness since the project began in July 2016.
The charity’s campaigns and communications manager Paul Sheehan, said there was a lot in the plan that was very good, but maybe it needs to go further, and three years in, now it really needs to be seriously reviewed. He said there is some good work being done, but much more is needed.
“There is a noticeable increase in the amount of social housing that is being built and being brought on stream. You know they brought in the rent caps and the family hubs and while that offers some relief, it doesn’t go near far enough to address the scale of the crisis.”
Looking at the figures, Mr Sheehan pointed out that the number of homeless people in emergency accommodation has been steadily rising over the past three years.
“If you look at Cork, back in July 2016, there were 206 adults in emergency accommodation and in April 2019, that just about doubled to 409. It is not making the dent that it needs to make in Ireland.
“From those simple figures alone, you would have to say rebuilding Ireland is not as effective as it should be.”
Looking at one of the major problems, rising rents, Mr Sheehan said that rent pressure zones have had minimal impact.
“That is one of the biggest concerns at the moment, first of all, people can’t afford to put a roof over their head so it’s pushing them into homelessness and then when they get there, they can’t find their way out or they find it very difficult to get out.”
Mr Sheehan also said that those who are battling mental health or addiction issues, as well as having suffered traumatic childhood experiences have practically no chance of getting out.
“If you are in homeless services and you have these issues, the chances of getting out are practically zero.
“The scale of the social housing building doesn’t go near far enough, to address what the figures are on the ground at the moment.”
Mr Sheehan said it can be tough for the organisation to keep going, but there are positives.
“It is frustrating, our traditional group of people are always going to be there, people with high support needs, poor mental health, poor physical health, addiction issues, but then you have people who simply can’t put a roof over their head. That is the real frustration, you shouldn’t be there simply because you can’t put a roof over your head, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel, last year we housed more people than we had ever before and we think we are going to top that this year.”
Mr Sheehan also said the charity had rejigged their practices to facilitate the growing demand. Despite these improvements within Cork Simon, Mr Sheehan reiterated that housing was an issue that needed to be addressed.
“Housing is the big issue and until we start addressing housing as a basic human need and not a commodity, we are going to be in this crisis for the next few years and the foreseeable future.”