Homeless services creaking at the seams as Cork Simon warns: 'it cannot be sustained'

Homeless services creaking at the seams as Cork Simon warns: 'it cannot be sustained'
Two homeless people sleeping rough just off the South Mall in Cork City, Ireland. - Picture David Creedon

HOMELESS charity Cork Simon has said the current level of pressure on their services “cannot be sustained.” 

The emergency shelter at Cork Simon has been full every night over the past two months and staff are having to find extra floor/sofa space for additional people because of the huge influx of those seeking help.

Cork Simon Campaigns and Communications Manager Paul Sheehan said: “The demand for emergency beds takes its toll on everyone involved – staff, volunteers and people using our emergency shelter.

“On Tuesday night last, our emergency shelter was full (47 beds), we had an extra nine people using various different floor and sofa space in common areas in the shelter, and we had 17 people on mattresses on the floor of our adjacent Day Service. 

"This level of pressure on services cannot be sustained.” 

 Mr Sheehan said that in November 2017 they added 15 extra emergency bed spaces at their Day Centre which consisted of 15 mattresses on the floor of the Day Service, available from 11pm to 7.30am each day.

These additional measures were originally meant to be temporary but remain in place more than a year later.

“They were put in place as part of the City’s Winter Initiative at the time to tackle homelessness.

“We were due to retire those extra emergency bed spaces at the end of March last year, but the need was such that we kept them in place with support from Cork City Council.” 

Mr Sheehan also said that since last December, Cork Simon squeezed in an additional three spaces into the emergency shelter, bringing the total to 18 additional emergency bed spaces.

“These spaces continue to be in high demand," he said.

Based on the recently released figures detailing the number of people in emergency accommodation, Mr Sheehan said that there appears to be no let up in the housing crisis, which is essentially driving the homeless crisis.

“The cost of private rented housing remains stubbornly high. The majority of people currently stuck in emergency accommodation are depending on the private rented sector to exit homelessness.

“As long as that crisis continues, we expect to see the number of people depending on emergency accommodation to continue to increase.”

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