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Published on: Galway Simon Community News

Covid-19 pandemic putting people at risk of homelessness

Tuesday 30th March 2021

Local homeless charity Galway Simon Community has raised concerns after recent Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government figures showed another monthly increase in the number of people living in Emergency Accommodation in the West of Ireland. The charity fears this is the start of an upward trend for 2021 and says that Covid-19 is causing some people to be pushed further into poverty and at risk of homelessness.

The latest figures showed 399 people including 52 families with 120 children were recorded as living in Emergency Accommodation in the West of Ireland during February, an increase of 61 people (18%) since December 2020. The number of families increased by 24% during this period with the number of children also increasing by 33%.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community highlighted the concerning trend and commented on recent research released by Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) which has further highlighted the extent of difficulties people are facing as a result of the pandemic.

“The number of people living in Emergency Accommodation in the West has increased for the second month in a row this year. Our concern is that this may be the start of a worrying trend and that the number of people experiencing homelessness will continue to rise when Covid-19 restrictions and measures such as the moratorium on evictions are eased,” Karen said.

Red C research commissioned by SVP released last week reported that a significant proportion of Irish society are facing a multitude of financial pressures due to the pandemic. The research found that 43% of the population reported experiencing at least one form of financial strain due to Covid-19 .

“The recent SVP research released is very worrying and really highlights the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which is resulting in people being pushed into poverty and becoming at risk of homelessness. Of particular concern was the fact that 24% reported cutting back on food, heating or electricity due to cost, and 14% reported falling behind on household bills. These are basic every day necessities that people are having to sacrifice due to the financial strains that they are under due to Covid-19,” Karen said.

“Every day, our frontline services support people who are making these sacrifices. We know through our work that people are struggling to maintain the homes that they have and this research has further highlighted the extent of the challenges that people are facing.” Karen continued.

“With social and affordable housing at an all-time low across the West, we believe it is crucially important that the focus is on preventing people from becoming homeless and entering homeless services, rather than short term solutions such as Emergency Accommodation. Prevention services must be supported to ensure we can stop the flow of people into homelessness and to shield people from enduring the trauma of having nowhere to call home,” Karen added.