THE highest ever number of homeless children in the South West was recorded in June, with 257 kids in emergency accommodation.
The figures released by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government also showed that the total number of adults and children in emergency accommodation in Cork and Kerry is 685, up 43% in 12 months and 108% in two years.
The number of women in emergency accommodation is also at its highest ever recorded, with 182 females staying in a shelter, hotel room or B&B.
Paul Sheehan from Cork Simon said the figures were “crazy.” He added: “We are two years out from the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland and these figures suggest that is it not working.
“In those two years the figures have doubled and there are three times as many families. It is not getting a grip.”
Mr Sheehan said it was also important to note that these figures were not the full picture.
“These figures do not include people struggling to pay rent or sharing with friends or sleeping on sofas because they have no other option. The real picture is even bleaker.”
Mr Sheehan said there was no doubt that the current situation would have a long-lasting effect on children.
“The experience of homelessness is traumatic and will stay with these children for years to come. I wonder are we just setting ourselves up for more people to become homeless in the future.”
Meanwhile, an activist group undertook a sit-in at the Homeless Persons Unit at Drinan Street yesterday demanding it be closed down because its facilities are “inadequate” and “undignified”.
The Housing Action group, led by independent county councillor Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, entered the building at 11.15am and refused to leave for almost three hours. Mr Ó Cadhla was accompanied by five other men who occupied the building after management told them it was closing for the day.
“Young mothers are made to queue or sit in a very confined space with their children and they are mixed with adults who may have substance addiction issues and who are under the influence,” he said. “There are no family facilities, no changing rooms for babies, no facility for tea or refreshments — there isn’t even a toilet.”