Cork Simon are yet to see any sign of the recession coming to an end in their work with the homeless. The latest quarterly Irish Economy Health Check from Goodbody Stockbrokers suggested Ireland has now fully recovered from the economic crash, with full employment projected by the end of 2018.
“It may well be but we wouldn’t see any evidence of that in our services,” Paul Sheehan, communications manager of Cork Simon said. “They are still very much stretched to the limit. Our emergency shelter is literally overflowing.” He pointed to the recent figures on homelessness which show the situation in Cork, far from turning a corner, has worsened in the last year.
“Look at the numbers published by the Department of Housing last Friday on people in emergency accommodation,” he said. “Look at the south-west, which is Cork and Kerry. The number of families in emergency accommodation increased by 79% over the last 12 months, the number of children increased by 98%.
"The number of adults in emergency accommodation in Cork increased by 23% in the last 12 months. There is no evidence of coming out of a recession there.”
He added: “The fact of the matter is people can’t afford housing. If that is a symptom of coming out of recession well then it is not a good thing.”
Mr Sheehan said Simon in Cork are struggling to assist the numbers in need of help, with no sign of increased capacity in the rental market to help alleviate the pressure.
“Our services are stretched to the limit and that has been the case certainly since January but really long before that. And there is no sign of that changing. We have people stuck in emergency accommodation for far too long and that is increasing simply because they have no other option."
"They are depending on the private rented market and have very little hope of getting something there.”
He acknowledged the good intentions of the Rebuilding Ireland plan but said the Government urgently needed to move from plans to action.
“Rebuilding Ireland has some very positive aspects and it certainly does focus on housing but we need it sooner rather than later. People can’t remain stuck in emergency accommodation for long periods of time because that in itself is detrimental. The longest somebody stays in emergency accommodation the harder it is to get out of it. It has a huge impact on people.
“You can’t have families with children living in hotels and B&Bs for a long time. It has a detrimental effect on the families, and in particular the children.”