Family homelessness almost back to peak levels

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Homeless charity Galway Simon Community has highlighted concerns about the number of families in emergency accommodation following the latest homelessness statistics.

The number of families living in emergency accommodation in the West is almost back to the peak levels as a result of the ongoing housing crisis.

There were 88 families living in emergency accommodation across Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in June, just one below the peak number in September 2019.

Galway Simon Community called on the Government to implement the measures outlined in their pre-budget submission in order to move beyond the crisis.

Recommendations in the pre-budget submission include bringing vacant properties back into active use through the Repair and Lease Scheme for people in homelessness and on the social housing waiting list, increasing HAP rates and doubling the funding towards homelessness prevention.

Karen Feeney, Head of Services with Galway Simon Community, explained that they are seeing families at risk of homelessness presenting for support to their services in distress, as they have been unable to secure a new private rented home that they can afford.

“Some are facing into being homeless, often for the first time in their lives and it is extremely difficult to accept this reality as they would never have imagined themselves being homeless,” said Karen.

“We support families to look at their current situation and explore possible options with them. For some, it can be too difficult to do this without support when you are extremely stressed about having nowhere to live. We work with families to explore all options, optimise their budget and gather references.

“We help families to understand how the system works so that they are better able to manage and navigate within that system. In the past few months we have supported a number of families to secure new private rented accommodation.

We have also supported a number of families to work with their landlord to allow the current tenancy to remain in place.”

In June there were 206 children living in Emergency Accommodation across Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

“Galway Simon supported 633 households between January and June this year, including 166 families with 361 dependent children,” Karen added.

“Rent and the lack of affordable rentable homes in Galway is forcing this reality of homelessness for families now. While the new HAP rates are welcome they unfortunately fall far short of addressing the issue.”