We are taking a close look at the homelessness and housing crisis here in the West of Ireland and how Galway Simon Community is supporting people impacted by homelessness to rebuild their lives. We look specifically at how the funds raised through the Virtual Sleep Out for Simon contribute to supporting those facing homelessness in the West and help prevent homelessness in our communities.
Since 2016, there has been an increase of 93%* in the number of people living in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland. This figure does not include rough sleepers, couch surfers, those living in squats or cars, and those involuntarily sharing, it is merely the tip of the iceberg. The homelessness and housing crisis is a multi-faceted issue with a range of contributing factors that affects communities across Ireland in nuanced ways.
The homelessness and housing crisis is fueled by a number of factors including:
- The increasing size and changing demographics of our population, with demand for housing far outweighing the supply.
- The rate of private and social housing build has not kept pace with the growing population. This, coupled with the slow rate of social housing delivery and the levels of vacant dwellings has led to a severe lack of affordable and social housing.
- There has been an over-reliance on the private rental sector to deliver social housing which has led to a decrease in supply and increase in rent prices. The private rental sector has become unaffordable for many on average and low incomes.
- Powerful investors and private players in the housing and accommodation space has contributed to increasing housing costs.
- The crisis has been further compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic which has put many people at further risk of homelessness.
These issues accumulate to put enormous stress on social housing and the private rental sector, which in turn leads many having no other option but to turn to homeless and homelessness prevention services for help, like Galway Simon Community. Our services are needed more than ever by those in our community.
*Homeless Data reports June 2021 vs June 2016, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
The impact of COVID-19 has created additional demand for our services, with people like our client Matthew suffering the adverse effects of the dual crises of housing and the pandemic. So far this year, we have seen a 22% increase in number of households supported compared to the same period in 2020. While the challenges we face have never been greater, there are tangible solutions to this crisis. Through our 41 years’ experience of providing housing and support services, we have learned that early intervention is key to keeping people in their own homes. If we can prevent someone from having to access homeless services in the first place, the outcomes are much better in that the trauma of emergency accommodation is not experienced and the associated costs of homelessness are significantly reduced. Thankfully, our supporters have showed up for us like never before.
More than 200 participants took part in last year’s Virtual Sleep Out for Simon, raising a staggering €137,205.10 for our Homelessness Prevention Services, making it our most successful Sleep Out to date. Thanks to their incredible support, more than 500 individuals and families facing homeless here in the West are set to be supported directly through the funds they raised. Further details of how last year’s Sleep Out helped those facing homelessness here in the West is available here.
In the words of our CEO Karen Golden, “Long after the dark days of 2020 have passed, the funds raised during the Virtual Sleep Out will have positive ripple effects for many years to come.”.
Our work is only made possible by the help of our volunteers, funders, and supporters, such as those participating in our community fundraising events like the Virtual Sleep Out for Simon. 100% of proceeds from the Virtual Sleep Out for Simon 2021 will go directly towards safeguarding Galway Simon’s vital Homelessness Prevention Services across the West. You can help us to continue to be there for our community and register for this year’s Virtual Sleep Out for Simon.