It is hard to imagine how anyone can start out with a stable home and suddenly, find themselves on the streets. Many people, who are homeless today in Ireland, never thought this could happen to them.

Why and how does this happen?

A new face to homelessness has emerged in 21st century Ireland, as the impact of years of recession, economic difficulties, and the lack of affordable housing takes its toll.

Many families, who were previously stable are now sinking into serious financial crisis as rents and the cost of living continue to rise. It only takes the loss of a job, a bereavement, an illness or some other traumatic event to cause people to fall behind in their rent or mortgage, leading ultimately to eviction.

Although the current economic crisis has added new dimensions to homelessness, the deep rooted social causes are more present than ever. Increasing poverty, cuts to mental health, social care and other support services mean that whilst the previously stable are now vulnerable, those who have always been vulnerable are in deeper crisis than ever.

At Good Shepherd Cork, we work constantly to empower women into independent living. However, rising rents, the stigmatisation of rent allowance, a shortage of available properties and the increasing pressure on the rental market mean that we face a bottleneck in our services. The longer it takes a woman to find housing beyond our emergency shelter, the more women we have to turn away from emergency accommodation.