Galway Simon Community has launched their 2021 Annual Impact Report, highlighting an increase of 26% in the number of households supported compared to 2020. With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, including the lifting of the moratorium on evictions and a deepening housing crisis, Galway Simon Community has supported more people than ever at risk of and experiencing homelessness in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.
Launching Galway Simon’s 2021 Annual Impact Report, Minister of State, Joe O’Brien stated, “The increase in homelessness seen in recent months is a serious concern for Government and is being actively addressed. Increasing social housing and residential housing supply is key to eradicating homelessness. At the moment State investment of over €4 billion a year in housing is aimed at increasing supply and the Housing For All plan is beginning to take root and deliver improvements.
We in the Green Party have recently reiterated our call for the Right to Housing to be enshrined in the Constitution. We believe this will be an important step in ensuring that the rights of those in need of housing are front and centre when it comes to policymaking both now and into the future. Organisations such as Galway Simon Community provide a crucial service to those in housing insecurity or homelessness and I am delighted to formally acknowledge and thank them for their work by launching their annual report.”
Galway Simon Community’s CEO Karen Golden revealed the increased demand on services, as well as the charity’s focus on providing solutions to those facing homelessness in the local community. “2021 saw another increase in demand for our homelessness prevention and housing services, with more people than ever turning to Galway Simon Community for help. We supported 814 unique households, this included 246 families, with 563 children.”
Karen welcomed the 364 new social homes delivered across Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in 2021, but highlighted that demand continues to far outstrip supply with 4,052 households on the social housing waiting lists. She also highlighted that as rents continue to increase and more landlords are exiting the rental market, there are fewer properties available to rent. The deepening housing crisis is further compounded by the increase in the cost of living. More people, many of whom would never have seen themselves accessing homeless services, are turning to Galway Simon for support. In total, the charity supported 1,511 people across its homelessness prevention and housing services last year.
“Our teams are more stretched than ever before, but we continue to do all that we can to support people for as long as they need us. In 2021, we provided supports to rough sleepers and 4,745 emergency bed nights. We established new Housing First tenancies in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. We extended the residential places in our Youth Service from 8 to 12, and acquired our first properties to provide tenancies for care leavers. Over 90% of those who accessed our City Prevention Service did not enter Emergency Accommodation. 37,084 meals were provided across our Services.”, Karen explained.
Karen acknowledged the incredible support that was provided by the charity’s funders, donors and supporters in 2021. She also thanked all of the volunteers who made such an extraordinary contribution to Galway Simon Community’s work over the last year and who are an integral part of the community.
Closing out their annual report launch, Karen said that there is deep concern among Galway Simon’s teams about the Winter ahead. The cost of living crisis is having a disproportionate impact on the most marginalised. Rising food and fuel prices, coming on top of what President Michael D Higgins has referred to as our housing ‘disaster’, will put significant pressure on many households over the coming months. She called on the government to prioritise measures in the budget to mitigate the risks of food and fuel poverty, and the risks of homelessness, this Winter. She also called on government departments to ensure homeless services are adequately funded, and that vital Services that are providing supports to those at the sharpest edge of the current crises are protected.
To download Galway Simon Community’s 2021 Annual Impact Report, visit here.
Photo by Murt Fahy. LTR: Karen Feeney, Galway Simon Community, Karen Golden, CEO Galway Simon Community and Mr. Joe O’Brien T.D., Minister of State for Community Development and Charities.