Cork Simon to open emergency shelter for winter

Homelessness crisis worsens as record numbers availing of emergency beds

The continuing housing and homeless crisis meant all of the community’s services were operating at or above capacity. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The continuing housing and homeless crisis meant all of the community’s services were operating at or above capacity. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Cork Simon will open an emergency shelter in the city this winter as the housing and homelessness crisis continues to worsen.

Record numbers accessed the charity’s services last year, according to Cork Simon director Dermot Kavanagh.

Speaking at the launch of Cork Simon’s annual report, Mr Kavanagh said the charity’s decision to open a winter night shelter was just one of a range of initiatives it was undertaking with support from Cork City Council in response to the homeless crisis.

“We will be providing an extra 15 places a night at our day centre here in Anderson’s Quay from now until the end of March. It’s not by any means a place to call home but will at least offer people warmth, shelter and some breathing space from life on the streets. What we really need is homes.”

Mr Kavanagh said the continuing housing and homeless crisis meant all of the community’s services were yet again operating at or above capacity. He said it provided emergency beds to record numbers each night last year while more people availed of its day service than ever before.

An average of 53 people per night relied on a Cork Simon emergency bed last year, compared to 50 people in 2015 and 47 people in 2014 .

An average of 20 people per night were long-term homeless in Cork Simon’s emergency shelter compared to 14 in 2015 and 12 in 2014.

Cork Simon’s Day Service supported 737 people last year, compared to 666 in 2015 and 633 in 2014.

“The longer-term impact of the housing and homeless crisis is beginning to show with people stuck in emergency accommodation for much longer periods of time because they simply have nowhere else to go,” Mr Kavanagh said. “ The number of people long-term homeless increased for the third successive year.”

The charity was able to provide housing to 28 new people last year, which was “a most welcome new start” for the people involved, he said.

“But we clearly need much more housing if we are to get a grip on the crisis. We developed a plan last year to increase our own housing stock by 100 units by 2019. It’s a very challenging target.”

Mr Kavanagh said that Cork Simon has also begun an empty homes campaign where it urges people with empty residential properties to get in touch with a view to the charity purchasing or renting the properties with the help of Government funding.