Local homeless charity Galway Simon Community has welcomed the decrease in the overall number of people living in emergency accommodation in the West but has expressed concerns about what lies ahead over the coming months.

According to the latest figures released by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, 450 people including 62 families with 164 children were recorded as living in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland during July. This is a decrease of 17 people, including 3 families, since the previous month. The number of young adults (18-25 year olds) however showed a slight increase of 4 people.

Speaking about the latest figures, CEO of Galway Simon Community Karen Golden welcomed the decline, warning however that complacency is not an option.

“There has been hugely positive work going on in Galway and across the country, which has seen families and individuals both prevented from having to enter homelessness in the first instance or being supported to exit homelessness. We welcome the decline in the number of people in emergency accommodation in the West, but we must acknowledge that this does not mean that the issue of homelessness is going away. Within Galway Simon Community’s services, we have seen a 22% increase in the number of households we are supporting since March when Covid first hit”, Karen said.

“Many people were already in crisis and struggling before the pandemic, and now we also have another wave of people in crisis situations because of a loss of jobs or income as a result of Covid-19. As some of the emergency measures start to be phased out, there is a risk that a lot of the good work that has gone on will be reversed and the number of people experiencing homelessness will start to increase again”, Karen added.

The charity also expressed concerns about the Winter months ahead.

“We must redouble our collective efforts to prevent more people from having to enter Emergency Accommodation over the Winter months, when the usual challenges relating to weather will be compounded by Covid-19. Now more than ever, it is essential that people have somewhere to call home to ensure their safety and wellbeing”, Karen said.