Galway Simon Community has expressed concerns that homelessness among young people is increasing in Galway and the charity has called for the new government to urgently address the homelessness and housing crisis.
According to recent figures, 503 people were reported as living in Emergency Accommodation in the West of Ireland during May, including 72 families.
Of those, 235 are children and young adults under the age of 24, representing 47% of the total number.
The number of people aged between 18 and 24 in Emergency Accommodation increased by 18% compared to May of last year.
Galway Simon Community says it is seeing first-hand the increase in young adults experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Galway.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, welcomed the decline in the overall numbers, but raised concerns that homelessness could increase again due to the economic fallout from COVID-19.
“It is very welcome to see a small decline in the overall number of people in Emergency Accommodation in the West, however, this is unfortunately not a trend we are seeing within our own services,” said Karen.
She said that the rise in youth homelessness over the last year is of particular concern and that Galway Simon is seeing more young people than ever turning to the charity for help.
“It is critically important that we can support young adults when they are in crisis to help them find a path that keeps them out of Emergency Accommodation and entrenched homelessness.”
Karen Golden highlighted the positive collaboration between statutory and voluntary organisations that has taken place in Galway since COVID-19 and urged the new Government to “build on this collaborative approach to urgently address the housing and homelessness crisis”.
“We welcome the recent passing of the vote on the programme for government and the appointment of new Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien,” she said.
From January to May of this year, Galway Simon’s Youth Homelessness Prevention Service alone supported 29 unique households, including 4 families; almost double the number for the same period in 2019.
In addition to this, the charity also supported a further 42 people between the ages of 18 and 25 in their other Prevention and Housing services.
“There has been a huge effort locally and nationally to ensure that those experiencing homelessness could remain safe during COVID-19,” added Karen Golden.
“Preventative measures such as the moratorium on evictions and rent freezes also demonstrated the willingness of the Government to take action during the pandemic.
“These actions have highlighted that if we build on this collaborative work between local authorities, the HSE and NGOs like Galway Simon Community, we can make huge inroads into the homelessness crisis. We now need a government response that brings the same level of commitment, collaboration and focus to ending homelessness for those in Emergency Accommodation and the many thousands more experiencing hidden homelessness across the country.”