Galway Simon Community, local homeless charity, launched their 2015 Annual Report this week which highlights the increase in the number of people on the verge of homelessness in Galway. The report shows the charity worked with 366 households in 2015, an increase of 27% from the previous year; with one of the main reasons being the inability to afford rising rents.
Bill Griffin, CEO of Galway Simon Community, said they are still seeing increases in the number of people experiencing homelessness, despite measures taken to date by the Government. “The numbers clearly show that the homeless crisis is still on the rise. While we welcome all of the measures that have been taken to date, they aren’t having a big enough impact on the homeless crisis”, says Bill, “last year we worked with a total of 366 households but in the first 6 months of this year alone, we worked with 407 households. Clearly this crisis is showing no signs of slowing down”.
“Our focus is on preventing people from entering the cycle of homelessness. Our Community Support team work with people in their own homes who are on the brink of homelessness for one of many reasons, with the most common being that people just cannot afford their rent. Last year, our Community Support team dealt with 142 referrals from people in their own home. This early intervention is essential to preventing people from becoming homeless”, Bill added.
Last week, Minister Simon Coveney announced under Pillar One of the Government’s Housing and Homeless Action Plan, Rebuilding Ireland, the commitment to prevent people from becoming homeless. These specific measures include:
* Extending preventative measures such as the Tenancy Protection Service nationally to all people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
* The expansion of Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) Homeless Tenancies to deliver 550 in 2016 and 1,200 in 2017.
* Establishing a new Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service and the associated Mortgage Arrears Aid and Advice Scheme.
“Preventing homelessness is the key to ending this crisis” says Bill, speaking about the latest announcement. “These measures outlined by Minister Coveney are important steps to ensuring more people do not fall into the cycle of homelessness and get trapped there. Once the commitments of the Pillar One announcement have been implemented, we should start to see an effect on the crisis in Galway and nationwide”.