A RECORD 506 men and women were depending on emergency accommodation in Cork during the last calendar week of October, according to the latest figures.
The Department of Housing, Heritage and Local Government, said that the number of adults depending on emergency accommodation in Cork in October increased by five per cent compared to September and increased by 15 per cent in twelve months. There was a 12 per cent increase in the number of men, women and children depending on emergency accommodation in Cork and Kerry during October, increasing to 756 people. Some 164 children were living in emergency accommodation in the South West region, in October.
Cork Simon’s Paul Sheehan said the Department’s figures reflect the demand for emergency beds at the Community’s emergency accommodation on Anderson’s Quay.
“It’s alarming to see record numbers of people depending on emergency accommodation in Cork so early in the einter season, but it’s not surprising – the pressure has been building slowly for months. It’s hard to see that pressure easing any time soon,” said Mr Sheehan. “An average of 75 people per night were depending on an emergency bed at our emergency accommodation during October. That’s well beyond anything we have seen in over 50 years in Cork.”
Cork Simon believes the latest figures from the Department confirm the need for the recently introduced moratorium on evictions.
"The temporary moratorium is likely to help," Mr Sheehan said. "We saw how effective it was during Covid. But it’s a temporary measure, until March 2023. It will be meaningless unless the Government takes the opportunity to get supply back into the housing market.”
Mr Sheehan said he believes there’s no better time to get as many of the 166,000 vacant homes around the country into the public housing stock as quickly as possible. The tenant-in-situ purchase scheme could also be ramped-up – a scheme where properties are taken into State ownership in cases where the owner is selling-up and leaving the private rented market.
“Without urgent measures to increase housing supply, we’re likely to see the number of men, women and children being pushed into homelessness increase further when the moratorium on evictions is lifted next March, as happened after Covid," he said. "We need much more than breathing space. No one wants their child to grow up into homeless on Christmas Day, but unfortunately, it’s looking like well over 500 sons and daughters will be facing into that trauma here in Cork this Christmas. It’s in our gift to help end it. It will require creative approaches, urgency and a shared belief that everyone who calls Cork home should have a home."
Socialist Party TD Mick Barry said, "it's a real sign of the Government's failure on housing that 500 adults are in emergency accommodation in Cork city and county for the first time. The Government fell short of their targets for social housing by 5000 houses last year - this is what happens when Governments fail so badly on that front."