More people in Cork are becoming homeless and staying homeless for longer, according to the latest annual report from Cork Simon.
New figures from the charity organisation showed that 1,403 people used their services last year, up 18%, and the most to ever seek their assistance in the 46-year history of Cork Simon.
The stark report was launched this morning by author, columnist and Cork Person of the Month Louise O’Neill at Nano Nagle Place.
A total of 339 people stayed in their Emergency Shelter throughout 2017 and these people are staying for longer periods of time.
According to the report, the average stay for a person in the emergency shelter was 62 days and 57 people were long-term homeless in 2017, up 10% since 2016.
Responding to a growing need for homeless services, Cork Simon increased its emergency bed capacity, opened its Day Service for rough sleepers on Saturdays and opened a three-bed Aftercare House for women leaving drug and alcohol treatment programmes.
Cork Simon’s Director, Dermot Kavanagh, described 2017 as yet another very challenging year.
“Some very worrying trends emerged throughout the year. People ended up staying for much longer periods of time in our emergency shelter because they couldn’t satisfy a basic need: find a place to call home.
“The number of people long-term homeless, stuck in our shelter for six months or more, increased by 10%.
“The number of presentations to our Day Centre increased 10% and the number of people depending on our Soup Run was up 14% - many of them on the very edge of homelessness.” While acknowledging the harsh reality of homelessness facing society today, Mr Kavanagh also mentioned the valuable contribution made by volunteers and donors that helps to keep the services going.
650 volunteers were so considerate with their time and skills, helping to make sure we could offer people the best possible supports when they were at their lowest. And 12,500 generous donors – individuals, community groups and companies throughout Cork and Kerry, contributed over half of our running costs for the year with the remainder coming from Government.
"A remarkable achievement. None of our work would be possible without that rock-solid community support. A big community of people believing in people.” Meanwhile, it’s understood that plans are afoot to remove tents from a Cork city centre quay where up to a dozen people sleep nightly are at an advanced state, it emerged last night.
Concerns about the presence of tents on an exposed wharf along St Patrick’s Quay have been discussed several times by senior city council management in recent weeks, and a number of options have been considered. Gardaí have also received several complaints about anti-social behaviour in the area.
It is understood that City Hall agreed on a specific approach some weeks ago and that the strategy is at an advanced stage. A spokesperson declined to comment on what this will entail but said simply tearing down the tents is not an option.
The council and Cork Simon both said their homeless outreach workers have engaged, and will continue to engage, with the people living in the tents despite their offers of emergency shelter being turned down.