City Hall pre-books additional beds as part of winter homelessness strategy

City Hall pre-books additional beds as part of winter homelessness strategy
A rough sleeper in a vacant shop doorway on Patrick St. City Hall has booked extra beds to ensure that nobody is left out in the cold this winter. Pic: Billy macGill

CORK City Council has outlined the challenges facing agencies dealing with the homelessness crisis in the run-up to Christmas.

City Hall executives have acknowledged the increased pressure on agencies trying to prevent rough sleeping during severe winter weather and have pre-booked additional emergency beds and made plans to create extra space in shelters.

Director of Services Brian Geaney said the Council had experience of dealing with increased winter demand and has a clear strategy in place. He laid out the plans after Cllr Thomas Gould expressed concern that there might not be a bed available for everyone who needs it.

The homeless situation in Cork city continues to worsen, with 453 individuals in emergency accommodation in October.

“We have had a huge increase in homelessness in 2018,” Mr Gould said.

“Although this looks like a good plan, the crisis is so bad, do we feel this is enough?”

Mr Geaney outlined the single units and family units already in use and said B&Bs and hotels are used as required on an ongoing basis.

“The Council has also pre-booked 13 additional beds to ensure that no one has to sleep rough during the cold weather,” he said.

“Also, there is capacity within the Cork Simon emergency shelter to accommodate those who have the highest support needs.”

St Vincent De Paul will also increase their emergency beds and if needs be residents currently in shelters can be moved to B&Bs, subject to approval.

“It is a substantial plan, a lot of planning has gone into this with the various service providers,” Mr Geaney said.

“We are also concerned by the levels of presentations.

“We are satisfied with the plan but we will keep it under constant review.”

The latest housing figures from Cork city council showed 78 families in emergency accommodation in October, up from 54 in August.

Numbers on the housing list also continue to rise, with 99 new applications in October bringing the total to 3,916.

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