ACCESS to help for homelessness has been made more difficult, according to Cllr Holly Cairns.
The Social Democrat councillor raised the issue at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District in Dunmanway.
It was first raised in The Southern Star several weeks ago.
She said she had been asked to raise the issue by representatives of West Cork Women Against Violence, who frequently deal with women in need of emergency accommodation.
Up until recently, people on the verge of homelessness could speak to their local community welfare officer but now they must register at the Council’s housing department in Clonakilty and produce evidence of their homeless status.
Cllr Cairns said it was highly impractical that ‘everyone from every area in West Cork has to go to Clonakilty. Some places in West Cork don’t even have a bus service to Clonakilty.’
The councillor informed the Council officials that she spoke to representatives of the voluntary organisation, Novas, that works with people who have become homeless, and they too are ‘disappointed to see that change.’
A Council spokesperson previously issued a statement saying: ‘The Council’s housing officer can arrange to meet people by appointment at one of the local authority’s area offices that are located throughout West Cork.’
But Cllr Cairns insisted that the Council should expand its range of services to provide an outreach centre that would be staffed by trained professionals.
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said the geographical spread of West Cork is so great, and the public transport service so deficient, that additional, appropriately trained people should be employed by Cork County Council.
‘Isn’t it bad enough that these people are in distress and facing homelessness, he said, ‘they should be dealt with by people who have the necessary skills.’
The municipal officer, Justin England, said the West Cork Municipal District has ‘no specific role in this’ and suggested that it should be addressed at a full meeting of Cork County Council. It was, however, agreed that the West Cork Municipal District would write to Cork County Council’s director of services for housing and ask him how the service is to be rolled out in West Cork.