“Before I became homeless I had a girlfriend and a job. It is when I had to leave her house. When we broke-up, that’s when I became homeless.”
Here in Cork some 1,298 different people turned to us for help in 2015. Our Outreach Team met 345 people sleeping rough for at least one night. 398 people stayed at our Emergency Shelter. 683 people used our Day Service. Our Soup Run met 897 people.
Since 2011 there’s been a marked increase in the number of people becoming homeless. For many, homelessness is the result of a brief crisis in there lives – sudden job loss, bereavement, relationship breakdown, and so on. With the right supports people can and do move out of homelessness very quickly.
For some , homelessness is the result of deep disadvantage from an early age – broken families, early school leaving, institutional care, long-term unemployment, learning difficulties, poor mental health, prison, alcohol and drug use. This group of people often have much higher support needs and it’s not unusual for their journey out of homelessness to be lengthy.
It is difficult to know the exact number of people who are homeless in Ireland. Many types of homelessness are hidden, such as people staying in temporary, insecure housing with relatives or friends, living in bed and breakfast accommodation and surviving in squats.
Each year the Simon Communities work with up to 6,000 people in Ireland.
The most recent Government figures relating to homelessness in Ireland are available from the 2011 Census and from The Housing Agency’s Social Housing Assessments 2013. All of these figures are snapshot figures meaning they are collected at a single point in time.
3,808 people were counted in accommodation providing shelter for people who are homeless or were identified as sleeping rough on Census Night 2011. There was no self-identification question on homelessness on the Census form.
The Housing Agency’s Social Housing Assessments 2013 showed 89,872 households were assessed as qualified for housing support. Single person households made up the largest household type (44%), followed by single adults with a child or children (30%).
Over half of households (52%) who qualified for social housing support had their main need categorised as ‘dependent on rent supplement’. The next largest need (20,349 households or 23%) had their main need categorised as ‘unsuitable accommodation due to particular household circumstances’. It is likely that this group consists of households not in receipt of rent supplement, but with a difficulty in affording private housing. In 1% of cases, accommodation was deemed unfit and in another 3% it was overcrowded.
11% of households were identified as having a specific accommodation requirement – 4% of households due to a disability, 3% due to homelessness, 2% of cases required Traveller-specific accommodation and 2% had an age-specific accommodation requirement. The majority of those qualified for social housing support (89%) had a general accommodation requirement.
Three-quarters (75%) of households qualified for social housing support were living in the private rented sector – two-thirds of which were receiving rent supplement. About one-in-five were living with their parents, relatives or with friends.
While a quarter of households qualified for social housing support in thetwelve months before the assessment, about one-fifth did so more than five years ago.
Census 2011 included a special report on the number of homeless persons in Ireland on Census night.
The Housing Agency has published a summary of its Social Housing Assessment 2013.