Call for action to prevent family homelessness

Cork can be prevented from following Dublin’s lead

There have been calls for action on Cork’s growing homelessness crisis before it affects entire families as is already the case in the greater Dublin area.
Joe Finnerty of the School of Applied Social Sciences at University College Cork told The Irish Catholic that he believes “it is possible that Dublin is holding up to Cork a mirror of its future.”
Mr Finnerty said that it is apparent that family homelessness, a hallmark of Dublin homelessness, isn’t yet the issue in Cork it is in the capital. 
However, he said, there are a growing number of families at risk in Cork.
Such a future is not inevitable, he adds, describing how Niall Horgan, regional manager of Threshold, spoke at a UCC-run conference on the issue about a new tenancy protection service that has been rolled out in Cork in recent months.
The agency now liaises with families at risk and intercedes with the Department of Social Protection to secure temporary rent supplement increases to prevent such families from being forced into homelessness.
According to Paul Sheehan of Cork’s Simon Community, “rough sleeping very much mirrors what is happening in Dublin, although not on that scale”.
Last year saw 284 people sleeping rough in Cork, up 60% on the previous year, he said. 
While Mr Finnerty is sceptical that the Government will hit its target of eliminating rough sleeping in Ireland by 2016, he still sees grounds for hope, citing a local homelessness action plans which aims, among other things, to refurbish the Good Shepherd Services-run Edel House, which provides accommodation for women and children. Numbers of such falling into homelessness are small, he says, but the trend is upwards. 
Praising housing-led approaches to minimise risks of people entering homelessness and to minimise time spent in emergency shelters, he singled out Minister Alan Kelly’s having directed local authorities outside Dublin to allocate 30% of all new social housing allocations to high priority cases.