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Published on: Galway Simon Community News

Youth homelessness in West growing at double the national average

Wednesday 25th July 2018

Local homeless charity, Galway Simon Community, has responded to the latest emergency accommodation figures for June 2018 warning that homelessness among 18-24 year olds in the West is growing at double the national average.

Youth homelessness in the West of Ireland grew by 30% between June 2017 and June 2018, while the national average grew by 13.7%. At the same time, the number of homeless children in the West also increased by over 50%, with 207 children now living in emergency accommodation.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, said under 25’s now account for almost half the number of people living in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland.

“Youth homelessness has been on the rise in Galway for a number of years now and this is something we see directly through the demand for our services. In 2016, we set up a dedicated Youth Service to respond to this need and already this year we have housed 15 young people experiencing homelessness and supported others who are at risk of homelessness.

“Our Youth Service focuses on early intervention, aiming to work with this group at an impressionable time in order to prevent them sliding into entrenched homelessness. If we can prevent someone from having to access emergency homeless services in the first place, the outcomes are much better in that the trauma of emergency accommodation is not experienced. The associated costs of providing homeless services are also significantly reduced.

“It’s important to remember that the emergency accommodation figures only give us an indication of the homelessness crisis as they do not include those sleeping rough, sofa surfing, those who are ‘hidden homeless’ or living in homeless services. But behind each of these numbers are real people; individuals, families, young adults and children who have nowhere else to go. Every day we are seeing the effects of this and the trauma experienced by those living in emergency accommodation within our work in the local community.

“We cannot rely on the private rental sector in Galway to deliver social housing. We have already seen that the Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) within Galway City are not working.  The RPZ measure clearly sets out that rent increases are to be capped at 4% annually yet, according to Daft.ie’s Quarter 2 report, rents in the city increased by nearly 14% in the last year. We urgently need more social and affordable housing to ensure that people can start moving out of emergency accommodation and homeless services to a place of their own.”