20 November 2015
By Bryan Smyth
Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence Simon Coveney launched Cork Simon Community’s Annual Report.
Facts and figures
Cork Simon served 1,314 different people in 2014 – which is up 11%.
11,289 hot meals were served – the highest number in over five years.
Cork Simon’s Annual eReport 2014 highlights the scale of the housing and homeless crisis in Cork: the Community supported more people than ever before – an 11% year-on-year increase to over 1,300 people. There was a 63% increase to the number of people sleeping rough in 2014 while Cork Simon’s Soup Run experienced increases of 24%.
Comment from Simon Director Dermot Kavanagh
Speaking at the launch at one of Cork Simon’s high-support houses, Clanmornin House on Boreenmanna Road, the Community’s Director, Dermot Kavanagh described 2014 as yet another challenging year for services as the housing crisis pushed more and more people into homelessness.
Speaking at the launch, Dermot Kavanagh, pointed to the pressure all of Cork Simon’s services are under because of the growing numbers. He said, “We’ve used all of our resources to respond, but it isn’t enough. More people sleeping rough, more people depending on our Soup Run to make ends meet, more people staying every night at our Emergency Shelter – and stuck there for far too long because they have no other option. People deserve better.”
Welcoming the increases in funding for homeless services announced in the recent budget, and a Winter initiative aimed at making sure there’s a bed for everyone that needs one, Dermot Kavanagh said, “Increasing the number of emergency beds is a welcome approach right now – they’re desperately needed, but it’s not the solution. People need permanent homes that are safe, secure and where they can get all the supports they need if they are to leave homelessness behind them for good.”
Commenting on Government commitments to increase the supply of social housing by building more and bringing boarded-up properties back into use, Dermot Kavanagh said, “This can’t happen fast enough. The housing crisis is driving the growing number of people being pushed into homelessness; people need housing, not emergency accommodation. People must be able to afford to put a roof over their head rather than facing uncertainty about whether they can afford next month’s rent – or not being able to pay it at all. The measures announced recently to address that uncertainty will help some people, but rents have already spiralled resulting in far too many who are virtually excluded from the private rented market. That will only be addressed if Rent Supplement levels are increased.”
Highlighting what Cork Simon Community was able to achieve in the face of the housing and homeless crisis, Dermot Kavanagh said, “Despite all the pressures in 2014 we were able to house more people than ever before. We supported people long-term homeless – those stuck in emergency accommodation for far too long because of multiple and complex needs, into housing resulting in their number falling for the third consecutive year. More people than ever participated in education and training courses, and we supported more people into employment, which proved to be an effective route out for homelessness for many.”
Cork’s service needs donors
Emphasising the need for a communitywide response to the housing and homeless crisis, Dermot Kavanagh said, “We couldn’t have achieved anything on our own. Thousands of concerned and generous donors helped make sure we had the resources to make it happen. Hundreds of volunteers gave us their time and skills so that people who had nothing had the best possible care and support. Businesses large and small demonstrated that they cared about homelessness by supporting our work. It’s a real community effort that’s making a big difference.”
Are the Government helping tackle the homelessness crisis in Cork?
Thanking Minister Simon Coveney for taking the time to launch Cork Simon’s Annual eReport 2014, Dermot Kavanagh acknowledged his work in making sure homelessness remains a priority for the government. He said, “We support fully the Government’s approach to tackling homelessness: house people as quickly as possible and provide the supports they need to remain housed – a Housing First approach. We’re making progress. But let’s double our efforts to make sure everyone can access the housing they need without delay. People deserve better. We can and must make it happen.”
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