Sophie Johnston who compiled the report.

‘A bleak picture’

By Marguerite Kiely

The number of single homeless adults in the southwest region has doubled in the eight years to March and is one of the highest rates in the country.

These are the findings of the Cork Simon Community, whose report ‘Home Truths: Single Homelessness in the Southwest’, was released this week.

The report finds that for every 18 single adults presenting in emergency accommodation in the southwest in 2022, only one single adult exited to a tenancy. Half of the single adults in homelessness are there long-term – one in eight for two years or more.

Sophie Johnston, who compiled the report, said: “We in Cork Simon Community would be aware of just how challenging it is for single homeless adults. But to see the full reality of this report paints a bleak picture.”

The report also discovered that single adults constitute over half of the social housing applicants in Cork and Kerry. However, the availability of one bedroom housing units in Cork falls drastically short, accounting for just 10% of the local authority's stock and less than 20% of the private rental stock. “It’s well recognised that we need housing but the unit type needs to be factored into that debate also,” said Sophie.

“Our report shows that what we require is more single-unit housing,” she said. “The long-term trend is an increasing proportion of single adult households. In Ireland the number of one bed properties hasn’t kept pace with these changing demographics. A two bed is completely out of reach for a single person, so they really are relying on a single bed property becoming available,” she added.

Sophie explained that there is significant pressure on the services that Cork Simon Community offer. “In terms of our emergency shelter, we are absolutely packed and have been for a long time. The staff do their utmost to support the people who are turning to us for help. They support and encourage but at the end of the day, the exits are at a minimum. It’s a dispiriting situation,” she said.

Sophie said: “I am so impressed by people who keep trying against the odds. Day in and day out they get up and search on Daft. Every day they do the same thing because it’s all they can do. Their resilience and perseverance is remarkable.”

Sharing his personal experience, Liam, a single adult currently in emergency accommodation in Cork explained just how difficult it is not to have a home. “I’ve been homeless four years. I thought, yeah, I’ll have a place in a year or so, tops. Four and a half years and I’m still here,” he said.

“I’m trying to get my life back on track. Actually, if I stay here any longer my life isn’t going to get back on track. It’s going to get worse. Trying to get somewhere these days is bloody impossible.”

“I can’t even get a job because I can’t concentrate. I can’t focus in college. My own place would be my independence. Come and go, buy my own shopping, cook when I want. But I don’t have my own independence. Everyone needs their own place,” he said.