By Sarah Canty
FIVE new households were referred last week to a West Cork homeless organisation, including two families who said they were now sleeping in their cars.
‘This figure is higher than usual,’ said Novas Initiatives’ West Cork co-ordinator Patrick Healy. ‘On average I would get around two referrals a week.’
One of the families that claimed they were now forced to sleep in their car had children with them, he said.
This family has since been offered support with temporary accommodation in West Cork, to esnure the family is safe.
‘This service is eager to source a long-term solution through collaborating with the other relevant agencies,’ said Mr Healy.
‘The immediate remedy in these cases is to find emergency accommodation, such as a B&B.’ Healy said there was now a need for more affordable accommodation in West Cork to help address the financial pressures of many of his clients.
But Mr Healy, who works closely with other social services, to ensure long term solutions to homelessness, says that locating accommodation is not the long-term solution. While relocating homeless people is a priority for Novas, and local authorities, preventing those at risk of homelessness is the bulk of the organisation’s work.
Healy and his colleagues say there needs to be an integrated approach to homelessness. ‘People at risk of becoming homeless often experience mental health and addiction issues, on top of economic ones. Housing is not the end of the story. It’s often the beginning of addressing the issues that led to homelessness, which requires a holistic approach. This is in line with Housing First principles,’ he added.