The 85% increase in homelessness in the north west region since May has been described as ‘truly appalling’.
Coupled with a 26% increase in child homelessness since last month, and homelessness in Leitrim being recorded separately for the first time, the need for new measures to urgently address this housing crisis is clearly evident.
For statistical reasons, the number of homeless in adjoining counties are reported together, if there are less than ten adults homeless in one county. This is the first time that a separate figure was recorded for Leitrim. Noel Daly, CEO of North West Simon Community, said fears that it won’t be the last time.
North West Simon’s Housing Information and Tenancy Service provided support to 84 households at risk of or experiencing homelessness in the county in 2022, and they expect a similar number of households to seek support in Leitrim during 2023.
“The demand for our services in counties Donegal and Sligo is equally strong and, with significant deficiencies in the availability of affordable housing in either county, new measures to halt people’s progression into homelessness are urgently needed,” Mr Daly said.
He was commenting after new government figures show the three local authorities in the north west, including Donegal, provided emergency accommodation to 170 individuals during the last week of May. This number represents an increase of 15.6% month on month, and an increase of 84.7% year on year when compared with the 147 people homeless in April 2023 and the 92 individuals homeless in May 2022 respectively.
The government’s Monthly Homelessness Report records that 117 homeless households including 20 families, comprising 25 adults and 48 children, and 97 single adults, were accommodated during the week of 22-28 May.
“A Homeless Action Plan was approved by the Local Authorities in the region in March of this year and we must now see the speedy implementation of all aspects of the Action Plan to help stem the flow of people into homelessness,” Mr Daly said.
The rural nature of homelessness in the region is emphasised by the fact that 11 adults were provided with local authority funded homeless accommodation in County Leitrim last month.
Mr Daly points out that the Monthly Homeless Reports published by the government relate only to individuals and families provided with emergency accommodation by the local authorities. They do not include households frequently described as the “hidden homeless”. People and families sleeping rough, living in cars and tents, sofa surfing, escaping domestic violence in refuges, sharing with parents, family, and friends, and/or living in houses unfit for habitation.