A CORK city councillor has sounded a note of caution that the level of homelessness will increase when the winter eviction ban ends later this year, urging the city council to make preparations in anticipation of this.
In a report on homeless services to councillors, the council’s director of housing, Niall Ó Donnabháin said there was a 10.5% increase in individuals accessing homeless services in 2022.
While there was also an increase in families availing of homeless services last year, the level has been “stable” since last April.
Speaking at a council meeting this week, Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan said the council must make provisions for when the current eviction ban, in place until March 31, ends.
“The report has stated that homelessness in general has increased 10.5% but family homelessness has remained more or less static,” said Ms Ryan. “That will change very shortly once the backlog that has been building up of six months plus of evictions will start piling up.
"Any landlord who ever plans to sell will sell in the next year. We are going to see a significant increase in evictions. That is absolutely a fact.
“We need to plan for an increase in family homelessness come summer when there is probably going to be a 50% reduced capacity in hotels, which is what we traditionally rely on to house homeless families.”
Cork City Council, through the Accommodation Placement (APS) Office, has overall responsibility for the delivery of a central placement service and the provision of emergency, transitional and long-term accommodation, in partnership with Section 10 funded service providers and approved housing bodies.
In addition to the supported temporary accommodation provided by service providers such as Cork Simon, Depaul, and Good Shepherd services, Cork City Council also sources private emergency accommodation in B&Bs and hotels as and when it is required.
According to the report, issued to councillors in December, the APS saw 260 new presentations to homeless services last year, with 3,365 repeat presentations to the public counter.
The housing assistance payment (HAP) place finder service assisted 63 households in securing private rental accommodation under HAP in 2022.
The report also stated that 112 households exited services to housing through local authority housing, approved housing body or HAP rentals up to the end of Q3, 2022 while 13 households in emergency accommodation refused offers of long-term accommodation up to the end Q3 2022.
It said that the cold weather response team is in operation for homeless services since October.
Meetings occur every two weeks and includes attendees from Cork Simon, Good Shepherd services, Depaul, and An Garda Síochána. During a cold weather event, meetings are increased and are held daily if necessary.
“The Cork Simon outreach team carries out checks of the city environs daily to identify anyone who is rough sleeping. They encourage these clients to present to the day services that are available and to avail of accommodation and supports,” the report continued.
“Additional beds have been provided to ensure accommodation is offered to everyone who presents. An Garda Síochána assist by doing welfare checks on individuals who are refusing to come in.”