National housing charity Threshold has highlighted the rapid increase in the number of homeless individuals and families in the West of Ireland as it launches an urgent fundraising appeal.
The appeal comes as a direct response to the worsening homelessness epidemic, with the West of Ireland having the highest increase since 2016. Figures released by the Department of Housing last week show a further increase in family homelessness, with 1,726 families now homeless nationwide including 3,848 children.
Threshold is drawing particular attention to the 153% increase in homeless numbers in the western region since March 2016, way ahead of the national average increase of 64%. In March 2016 there were 139 adults accessing emergency accommodation in the West, while by August 2019 this had risen to 351.
There were 17 homeless families in the West in March 2016. However this rose to 83 families by August 2019, representing a 38% increase. This was more than four times the national average increase in family homelessness. The western region referred to in the homelessness statistics covers counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.
Additionally, the latest quarterly rental report from daft.ie showed that Co Galway had the highest percentage increase in average rent in the entire country, at 15.5%. Threshold’s Galway office has dealt with 624 Notices of Termination in the first nine months of this year alone, all of which involve households facing an immediate risk of homelessness and whom Threshold works to keep in their homes.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, John-Mark McCafferty, CEO of Threshold said: “Our frontline services are now working flat out to keep families in their homes as winter approaches. Our staff help tenants challenge invalid notices of termination or rent reviews; take discrimination cases to the Workplace Relations Commission; challenge illegal evictions and represent tenants at the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
“This keeps thousands of families in their homes. In 2018, through our Tenancy Protection Service we kept 5,161 households in their homes, thus preventing 7,111 adults and 4,451 children from becoming homeless in the first place.”
Karina Timothy, Western Regional Services Manager, Threshold added: “Despite the tireless work being done, family homelessness is getting worse, we urgently need more money to fund homelessness prevention nationwide and we are appealing to the public to support us to prevent this crisis from worsening in the coming months. We can see from the Department’s latest report that homelessness is not just at crisis levels in Dublin or the Greater Dublin Area, as the West of Ireland is showing the highest percentage increase in homelessness and rents in Galway are spiralling.
“The average cost of emergency accommodation provision is €100 a night per household. But Threshold’s prevention services cost an average of €1.20 to keep a similar household in their home. So the cost of homeless prevention is only 1.2% of the cost of homeless accommodation.”
The theme of the campaign is the need to “help keep the wolf from the door” by providing the service required to keep families in their homes. Running exclusively online, the ads show a frightening pack of three wolves – the three wolves of homelessness – closing in on a small family at risk of homelessness.
“The concept of the wolf at the door is a metaphor for the three main threats faced by those at risk of homelessness: Rising rents, lack of security of tenure and the absence of alternative accommodation for those losing their homes. These are the dangers our services help prevent, but we badly need additional funding,” concluded McCafferty.
Donate by visiting: threshold.ie/youcanhelp