Rural homelessness on the up in Ireland

Homelessness in parts of rural Ireland including Donegal is increasing and is more hidden, more stigmatized and more difficult to endure than being homeless in towns or cities, a report has found.

The Simon Community report, “Left Out in the Cold: a Review of Rural Homelessness in Ireland,” calls for increased resources for homeless services outside the main urban centers “as a matter of urgency.”

It says inadequacy of services is forcing some to leave their communities and migrate to larger towns, where they may encounter more acute problems.

The report found that while 3,808 people were found to be in emergency accommodation or sleeping rough in the 2011 census, 37 percent of them were outside Dublin. As in other counties, there is a “lack of robust data on homelessness” in rural areas.

Although homelessness is usually associated with urban areas, evidence from the Simon Communities around Ireland shows that it is very much present in rural areas too. Claire McTiernan, CEO of North West Simon Community said just because rural homelessness is more hidden, does not mean it is not an issue.

“It is a mistake to see homelessness and housing insecurity as a mainly urban problem. In rural areas people may not be sleeping rough. Instead they are staying with family and friends or they are living in over-crowded and unfit accommodation,” McTiernan said.

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