Sharp increases in those who are seeking emergency shelter in Cork

Sharp increases in those who are seeking emergency shelter in Cork

Two homeless people sleeping rough just off the South Mall in Cork City. Picture: David Creedon

HOMELESSNESS is getting worse despite the best efforts of Cork City Council staff, it has been warned.

The latest available homelessness figures from City Hall for November show sharp increases in the number of people presenting for emergency accommodation on more than one occasion.

Repeat presentations for emergency accommodation stood at 874 in November – up from 773 the previous month. In addition, 53 new applicants for emergency accommodation were added to the list.

The figures indicate a dramatic increase in the homelessness crisis since last summer - there were just 584 repeat presentations in July.

In contrast, 96 emergency accommodation cases were taken off the Council’s list in November. Just 11 of these moved to independent accommodation, while 15 moved in with family or friends. in ten cases, people left emergency accommodation for hospital or residential treatment and 60 cases were removed from the list for reasons unknown.

A total of 73 families were in emergency accommodation in November, the last month for available statistics.

Cllr Thomas Gould (SF) has said more staff for City Hall’s housing department is desperately needed in order to deal with the current crisis.

He warned that the problem could worsen when the areas of Douglas, Rochestown, Ballincollig and Glanmire come under City Hall’s jurisdiction from May.

“We know the amount of work that is being done by the housing department and the staff but the turnaround of houses to be built is taking too long,” he said.

“There are 874 [emergency accommodation cases repeat presenting in November] which I think is the biggest figure we have ever had.

“There was a huge increase in homelessness in Cork in 2018. The smallest figure in the report is the total number of people leaving emergency accommodation. What this is showing is that despite the good work that is being done. The crisis is getting worse.

“I am currently dealing with five families who are on the verge of eviction because private landlords are selling their houses. I don’t want to keep on saying this but homelessness is getting worse by the month.

“Where is our strategy to fix it?” he added.

City Hall officials dealt with 140 new housing applications in November and made 36 housing offers. Over 3,900 people remain on the housing list.

Tim Brosnan (FF) urged all political parties at local authority level to work together to address the right to shelter.

“It has to come from the bottom up,” he said. “There is enough shelter for everybody. We won’t build 10,000 houses overnight but we can put everybody in shelter.”

City Council director of housing Brian Geaney said the Council is progressing a number of projects and initiatives in order to reduce the demand for housing.

“There are a number of significant homelessness projects that started in 2018. The Family Hub is up and running and working very well on the Western Road. We have got approval for a Housing First project that will take 40 residents from emergency shelters to permanent accommodation and the Homeless Persons Unit will be located to City Hall as a new permanent facility is being sourced,” he said. “The supply of private housing isn’t keeping pace with demand,” he added.

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