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Published on: Galway Simon Community News

An urgent need to focus on homelessness prevention in Galway

Joan Reinhardt, Galway Simon, Dr. Pádraig Mac Neela, NUIG, Niamh Randall, Simon Communities of Ireland, Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community V2
At the launch of Galway Simon’s Annual Report launch: Joan Reinhardt, Galway Simon, Dr. Pádraig Mac Neela, NUIG, Niamh Randall, Simon Communities of Ireland, Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community

Galway Simon Community launched their 2017 Annual Report this week and said that the homelessness crisis in Galway is going to get worse before it gets better.

At the launch event, we took a look over the homelessness and housing crisis over last year, a year that was the most challenging year since we began providing services nearly 40 years ago. We also discussed the role of homelessness prevention at this critical time in Galway and why our focus has shifted to this.

Speakers at the event included Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, Dr. Pádraig MacNeela, Psychology Lecturer at NUI Galway, Niamh Randall, Head of Policy and Communications at the Simon Communities of Ireland and Joan Reinhardt, Services Manager of Galway Simon’s Women & Family and Youth Service.

Speaking at the event, Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, noted the increasing number of people in emergency accommodation, from 36 to 499 individuals, including 207 children, over the last five years and highlighted the pressures on our services at the same time.

“Every year for the last number of years, the crisis in Galway has continued to worsen. Despite all of the measures that have been taken to date, there are more people in emergency accommodation now and Galway Simon are supporting more people than ever before.

Social housing in Galway is not coming on stream fast enough for the demand from the local community. The Minister set social housing targets for Galway City and County of 931 units for 2018, with 73% of those to come from the private rental sector. However, the reality is that 93% of the units delivered so far this year, according to the Department, are coming from the private rental sector. With rent increases in the city of 15.9% in the last year, this is not sustainable,” Karen said.

The charity supported 537 unique households in Galway last year and explained that the majority of these, 402 unique households, were supported to prevent them from becoming homeless. Karen went on to explain why the focus on homelessness prevention is so important at this time.

“Without the supply of social and affordable housing available that is needed for city and county, the harsh reality is that the crisis is going to get worse before it gets better. That is why at this critical time, Galway Simon Community are placing our focus on homelessness prevention; keeping people in the homes that they already have. It is our belief that early intervention is the key to keeping people out of emergency accommodation and ultimately, out of homelessness. If we can prevent more people from becoming homeless in the first place, we can in turn reduce the trauma and economic cost associated with homelessness,” said Karen.

“Our plans in the near future involve the extension of our Homelessness Prevention Services, Youth Service and Health and Well-being Team, and acquiring additional housing so that we can prevent more individuals and families from becoming homeless,” she added.

Download Galway Simon’s 2017 Annual Report here.

Wednesday 19th September 2018