The most recent figures available from Cork City Council show that in February 2019 the total number of families who were homeless in Cork City and County was 109. This is a stark increase from the 56 families who were homeless in April 2018 – an increase of nearly 100% in under a year.
The 109 families include 245 children. 57 of these children are currently staying in emergency accommodation provided by Good Shepherd Cork (in Edel House or Redclyffe family hub) and the remainder are in private emergency accommodation (B&Bs or hotels) where many are being supported by GSC’s B&B outreach team.
Women and children currently account for 60% of homeless people in Cork.
In this context, the demands on Good Shepherd Cork have grown considerably. We worked with over 800 women and children across our services in 2018. Edel House was full to capacity throughout the year whilst referrals to our Support and Advocacy service have increased by over 40%. We opened Redclyffe family hub in June 2018 which has accommodated 65 children and 50 adults up to the year end.
Life in emergency accommodation is extremely stressful for children. Research shows that homelessness in childhood can lead to poor health, low self-esteem, problems in school, alienation, and ultimately, as an adult, high risk of future homelessness. But as the homelessness crisis increases, people are staying in emergency accommodation for longer periods, typically several months and sometimes over a year as it becomes increasingly difficult to find affordable housing.
In response to this crisis Good Shepherd Cork is providing women, children and families with a safe place to stay and practical supports to find and move on to secure long-term housing; along with a wide range of educational, therapeutic and emotional supports to build the resilience and coping skills to best manage the many stresses of homelessness.