With the perishing conditions that battered the country from January to March last year, homeless charities are preparing for the worst as another year of the housing crisis begins in earnest.
Assistant CEO of COPE Galway, Martin O’Connor, says the organisation is in a good position to face any freezing conditions that might come – with the added caveat that a severe shortage in long-term solutions is putting the supply of emergency beds under strain.
“Our cold weather response has been in operation since November 26. January, so far, has been very manageable and for anyone who has presented, we had beds.
“In early to mid-December, we were a little bit concerned but a good bit of work has been done to free up emergency beds; some have had long-term accommodation sorted while for others, we have sorted other temporary accommodation,” he says.
The cold weather response, explains Martin, is set up in the first instance to engage with people who might otherwise be sleeping rough. However, it also aims to work with each individual to try find a more long-term solution.
But with a fall in the amount of available private rental accommodation, and no significant increase in the amount of social housing units due in the short term, this is becoming an ever more arduous task.
“The moving on to long-term accommodation piece, last year, that was very challenging. This year, it’s shaping up to be even more challenging.
“With emergency accommodation, people are having to stay there longer and if people aren’t moving on, the spaces are not freeing up,” says Martin.
It’s not all bad news, though, with a number of families moving on to private rental accommodation and some local authority units.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.