€5m spent tackling homelessness in Cork last year

€5m spent tackling homelessness in Cork last year
Sleeping rough in Cork. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

MORE than €5m was spent on Cork's homeless services last year with calls for agencies to work together to ensure that nobody falls through the cracks.

Sinn Féin's Thomas Gould made an impassioned plea to the volunteer and funded services in the city to integrate their services to make sure that rough sleepers in the city centre can access the services that they need.

Mr Gould was speaking in the wake of a report by Cork City Council which detailed the local authority's spend on homeless services in 2016.

Some €5,377,273 was allocated for homeless services in Cork last year.

This included €890,000 on private emergency B&Bs, €317,000 on Threshold on €128,000 on Focus Ireland.

A further €934,947 was spent on St Vincent de Paul, with Cork Simon Community receiving €922,035.

Good Shepherds Cork (€267,350), Sophia Housing Association (€312,058) and Cork Foyer (€127,049) were also among the beneficiaries.

Mr Gould said that this spend needs to be assessed to make sure the money is going to those who need it most.

"A few things need to happen in Cork," he said.

"People are falling through the cracks and that can't keep happening. We need better integration between volunteer and funded services to make sure people can access the services they need."

The Sinn Féin representative also called for permanent outreach workers to be on Cork's streets every night.

He said a drop-in café can also handle some of the issues, either by alleviating pressure on existing services like Cork Simon or by providing an option for those who can't find a space.

Mr Gould also said the existing Cold Weather Strategy needs to be extended across the year.

The Cold Weather Strategy operated in Cork from November 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016.

18 additional emergency beds were booked and additional staff facilitated to meet demand, according to a report from Cork City Council.

"Throughout the period of the strategy, a total of 25 individuals were supported to move from Cork Simon emergency shelter to St Vincent de Paul emergency beds," the report stated.

€163,918 was spent on the cold weather initiative, with €125,200 of this accounting for the cold weather B&B spaces.

Mr Gould said, "It is a good initiative but it isn't solving the problem. For one, it needs to be expanded across the entire year, but people were still sleeping rough when it was operating. It is a temporary, short-sighted fix.

"In this day and age, there is no excuse for anyone to be sleeping on concrete in our streets and I think that better integration between the services can go a long way towards stopping that."

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