There has been a 4% decrease in the number of people in Emergency Accommodation in the West in April 2020, compared the same time last year.
While this decrease is small, Galway Simon Community has said that it is a ‘very welcome reversal of the relentless increase’ in numbers over recent years.
But despite the decrease, the charity says that the figures remain far too high with 537 people – including 214 children – with no place to call home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said: “For those at risk of or experiencing homelessness, the Coronavirus is a crisis on top of a crisis.
“It is impossible to follow national guidance to ‘stay at home’ when you have no home.
“Leo Varadkar’s announcement last Friday easing the restrictions is most definitely welcomed, however it does not change the circumstances of those living in Emergency Accommodation and Homeless Services across the country.”
Galway Simon expressed deep disappointment that family homelessness in the West is still increasing year on year, while nationally there has been a 23% decrease in the number of families in Emergency Accommodation since April 2019.
It is well documented that the experience of Emergency Accommodation can be deeply traumatic for families, and for children in particular – this trauma is compounded at present, with families in Emergency Accommodation having no access to schools or other outlets.
“New housing which was due to come on stream over the last couple of months has been delayed because of the lockdown,” Karen added.
“While there was significant hope that the decrease in demand for short term lets for visitors to Galway, Mayo and Roscommon would see an increase in the availability of affordable housing in the private rental market, our frontline services are not seeing evidence of this on the ground.”
The charity is also extremely concerned about the increase in the number of young adults in Emergency Accommodation.
The West saw an 18% increase in the number of 18-24 year olds in Emergency Accommodation in the last year, while nationally this figure decreased by 17%.
“Galway Simon has seen a spike in the number of young people seeking help from our dedicated Youth Service.
“With many support services curtailed or closed at present, an increasing number of young people are finding themselves in crisis and at risk of homelessness.
“Our frontline staff and volunteers have been working with young people throughout the pandemic, to try to ensure they don’t fall into a cycle of homelessness”, Karen said.
“The outbreak of Covid-19 has had a huge impact on those at risk of or experiencing homelessness and is putting so many already vulnerable people at increased risk. Galway Simon’s services have continued to operate throughout the crisis.
“Our committed staff and volunteer teams on the frontline are doing whatever it takes to ensure that people can remain safe, and in their own homes where possible.”