Homelessness up in County Cork, Ireland: most aged 26-35 [report]

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 12 Jun 1999 21:40:14 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  The Irish Times - Tuesday, May  18,  1999


     By Dick Hogan, in Cork

The housing crisis in Cork is causing serious difficulties for agencies
such as the Simon Community seeking to offer shelter to homeless people in
the city, where, according to the latest report from the community,
homelessness is a growing problem.

At the presentation of the annual report yesterday, the Simon director, Ms
Patricia McAllister, said the Simon Emergency Shelter in Cork admitted 789
people, of whom 232 were first-time users, last year. The shelter offers
short-term and crisis accommodation to the increasing number of homeless
people in the city.

In the foreword to this year's report, she said: "During the year, it
became evident that the city's housing crisis was having an effect on the
community's efforts to move people into accommodation. Where previously
people were being placed in albeit substandard private rented sector
accommodation, in the later months of 1998 even this was becoming more

"The private rented sector was being occupied by people who were unable to
get into the housing market due to the inflated house prices. Homeless
people were being excluded, with less accommodation available to them. The
situation was serious. People were being asked to leave the shelter with no
arrangement for alternative accommodation. We were in effect rationing beds.

"For this reason, the community reviewed the shelter policy and aimed to
prioritise people in most need - people who were long-term homeless or
sleeping rough, those who needed additional support, such as those with
alcohol or mental health problems - the people for whom Simon was set up.

"This report profiles people in contact with Cork Simon. It highlights that
homelessness in Cork is growing. The number of younger people under 25 has
increased and there is an urgent need to address the issues related to
homelessness, health needs, supported housing, street drinking, lack of day
care facilities, and, most urgently, decent, affordable accommodation," Ms
McAllister said.

The report concludes that many homeless people in Cork are unable to
sustain tenancies without support.  The age profile of those seeking help
from Simon over the past year shows a growing problem with young people.
The majority of people in contact with the agency are between 26 and 35
years of age.

"It is not acceptable that these people should be trapped in a cycle of
poverty and homelessness . . . The health needs justify our campaign for a
specific GP service for homeless people. They need access to healthcare and
the continuity of care such a service would provide."

The report recommends that the powers of the homeless forum be expanded
similar to the Dublin homeless initiative, that supported housing schemes
be developed in Cork with the provision of specific medical care for the
homeless, and that more statutory resources be available to groups dealing
with homelessness.

It further suggests that specific services, such as outreach alcohol
workers and counsellors, and provision for detoxification facilities, be
developed to support the disproportionate number of homeless men and women
with alcohol problems.


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