Cork Simon says homelessness reached record levels last year

Numbers using charity’s services increased by almost a fifth in ‘very challenging’ year

Cork Simon described 2017 as yet another ‘very challenging year’ for the charity. Photograph: iStock

Cork Simon described 2017 as yet another ‘very challenging year’ for the charity. Photograph: iStock

 

The homelessness crisis in Cork reached record levels last year, according to Cork Simon, which said 2017 was its busiest year ever.

More than 1,400 people used the charity’s services, marking an 18 per cent increase on 2016, according to its 2017 annual report. Other monitors of homelessness in the city also showed increases over the same period.

Cork Simon’s director Dermot Kavanagh, said it had been yet another “very challenging year” for the charity. It also saw an increase in the number using its emergency shelter to 339, with people also staying there for longer.

He said there were some “very worrying trends” with people staying for longer periods of time in emergency shelter because they “couldn’t satisfy a basic need – find a place to call home”.

“The number of people long-term homeless – stuck in our shelter for six months or more, increased by 10 per cent. The number of presentations to our day centre increased 10 per cent and the number of people depending on our soup run was up 14 per cent – many of them on the very edge of homelessness.”

According to the report, which will be released on Wednesday – the number of long-term homeless in the city grew by 10 per cent in 2017 to 57 people while an average of 19 people a night were sleeping rough in the city.

Cork Simon opened a winter night shelter in November 2017 when an extra 15 beds were made available in response to an increase in rough sleeping.

The numbers using the charity’s day service grew by 7 per cent to 790 people while there were a total of 10,345 presentations to the day service in 2017, which marked a 10 per cent increase on the equivalent figure for 2016.

Mr Kavanagh said while far too many people were pushed into homelessness last year, there was a tremendous response from the entire community in Cork and beyond to make sure people had the help and services they needed.

Mr Kavanagh said Cork City Council supported an additional 15 emergency beds in its day centre, 650 people had volunteered and 2,500 individuals, community groups and companies throughout Cork and Kerry who donated €3.8 million in 2017.