COPE Galway is extremely concerned about the record level of homelessness, with far more people in emergency accommodation than last year.
The record 10,805 people in Ireland living in emergency accommodation in August simply confirms the deteriorating situation, COPE has said, as the local charity responds to climbing numbers of people homeless in Galway.
Nationally, the number living in emergency accommodation in August 2022 is up 32% year on year compared to the same month in 2021.
In the west region, it is up by 17% including a 25% increase in the number of children without a permanent home.
“August of 2022 was different to any other we have experienced at COPE Galway,” explained Martin O’Connor, Assistant CEO of the local charity.
“There is usually some easing of the numbers presenting newly homeless in the month of August in Galway but not this year, quite the opposite in fact.”
“An additional five families came into emergency accommodation in Galway while the trend of a growing number of single people requiring emergency accommodation continued to climb.”
Dealing with this homelessness crisis, and bringing more social housing into use, must be a priority for the government, COPE has said.
More and more families cannot afford rent, and are being evicted from their rental housing, while the Housing For All plan is not meeting its targets.
COPE Galway are also growing increasingly concerned about a shortage of emergency accommodation options to meet the increasing numbers presenting as homeless in Galway.
“We are working in close cooperation with both Galway local authorities to ensure that there is an adequate supply of available emergency accommodation but the situation is challenging,” said Mr O’Connor.
“Our own emergency accommodation facilities are continuously full and the private emergency accommodation providers who work with us, including local B&Bs and hotels, are similarly at capacity on a near continuous basis”.
Too many people are unable to leave emergency accommodation as there isn’t enough rental accommodation available, he said.
“Through all of this, people who are homeless, most especially children, are living through what is a very stressful and damaging life experience through no fault of their own,” said Mr O’Connor.
The winter is likely to be extremely challenging due to the cost of living crisis, and the government must take action to stem the flow of people becoming homeless, COPE said.