Collins Condemns Council for lack of Imagination, Empathy and Compassion in responding to the Housing Crisis

By Seamus Whelehan

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Independent Cllr Noel Collins has slammed Cork County Council over their refusal to establish homeless shelters in Midleton and Youghal.  The Independent Cllr condemned the Authority’s Housing Directorate on Monday, 17 December for their lack of imagination, empathy and compassion in responding to the housing crisis.

He said the Authority must open their eyes to the reality of the homeless situation, remove the padlocks from empty properties and help ease the pain and suffering. “East Cork is one of the worst areas where there is no emergency homeless housing or hostels, despite the many empty schools, railway buildings, community halls and many boarded up derelict buildings” commented Cllr Collins.

In his report to the Southern Committee Director of Housing Maurice Manning said there is no need for “additional” homeless services in the area as there is no demand for such a facility at present.  “Funding for homeless service provision is provided on a regional basis to the South West local Authorities in Cork City, Cork County and Kerry. Emergency facilities are in place to deal with any person who presents as homeless, and the numbers of homeless presenting are recorded in each of the three areas.

He continued “funding for any additional emergency facilities must have regard to the existing demand / need, and an analysis of the numbers currently presenting does not identify the need for such an additional facility in the East Cork area at this time”.

Cllr Collins, a volunteer with the Simon Community, took offence to Mr Manning’s use of the word “additional” in his report.  He said “since we never had a homeless facility in the Midleton area I respectfully request the word additional be removed from the report.”

The Midleton based Cllr said the official definition of homelessness must be broadened to include sofa surfers and those living on the streets.  Under the 1988 Housing Act a person may become homeless if there is no accommodation available that can be reasonably occupied.

Being homeless is also defined as living in hospital, county home night shelter, or other institutions because there is nowhere else to go.  At present there are 800 people on the Council housing waiting list, with 349 people currently registered as homeless in Cork County, according to the Department of Housing.

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