Monday, 19 June 2023.

“Very hard to find a place. Very, very hard. Even looking up online, there’s not even a point emailing your details because there’s no one gonna get back to you because the house is already gone. I just want my own home and just move on like you know. I just want to get out of here. The whole lot of my life is on hold. Sometimes I feel like giving up.”

We hear this a lot at our emergency shelter; the despair and despondency experienced by men and women staying at our shelter and searching for secure and affordable housing. Staff are also feeling deflated; they encourage, support and build trust with people turning to us for help but the end goal of housing remains frustratingly out of reach for most.

The Southwest has one the highest rates of single adult homelessness in the country.

While most adults in homeless emergency accommodation nationally are single adults, the significant majority in the Southwest are single adults. According to latest figures (April 2022) from the Department of Housing, there are 559 adults in emergency accommodation in the Southwest, over three-quarters of whom are single adults, compared to a national average of two-thirds.

The chance of exiting homelessness for a single adult in the Southwest, and even more so in other regions in Ireland, is grim.

Our report, Home Truths: Single Homelessness in the Southwest shows how only a tiny percentage of single adults manage to exit homeless emergency accommodation to a tenancy - an average of just over 5% per quarter last year left emergency accommodation in the Southwest to a tenancy. Tiny as this percentage is, it is slightly higher than the national average of just over 4%.

Here's the starkness of it: for every 18 single adults presenting in emergency accommodation here in the Southwest last year, one single adult exited to a tenancy. Or, looking just at 'new presentations' each quarter to emergency accommodation in Cork and Kerry last year, for each single adult leaving to a tenancy, two newly homeless single adults took their place - one step forward, two steps back.

Exiting homelessness to a tenancy in the private rental sector carries its own challenges.

As welcome as that one step forward is, the journey doesn't end there for many of those people lucky enough to be able to take it. In my next post, I'll explore what this report tells us about just how precarious the private rental sector is for people exiting homelessness and depending on some form of housing assistance payment. They remain very much at risk of homelessness.

Single Homelessness in the Southwest is the first paper in Cork Simon’s Home Truths series, which aims to offer insights into different aspects and experiences of homelessness in the Southwest, drawing on publicly available data and supported by the personal experiences of Cork Simon service users.