26 Sept 2022

Editorial: Kilkenny homelessness figures shows serious problem has not gone away


File picture: Homelessness presentations are on course to rise 57% year-on-year here

Rising homelessness figures, as detailed on our front page this week, should have alarm bells ringing for everyone.

While the extent of the crisis has perhaps been less visible in recent months, presentations are once again soaring, and — according to the council — on course to show a 57% increase year on year. At certain times and places, rough sleeping has returned, while we hear of people sleeping in their cars, and couch surfing. In some cases, for different reasons, people may not want to avail of particular services.

The Government’s Housing For All policy has also changed the game for how our emergency accommodation services operate. This is an area where it is not always easy to get it right.

Homelessness is, of course, one facet of the whole housing crisis, where supply remains low, and rent and house prices continue to climb, leaving many stuggling or priced out entirely.

Like the seemingly neverending problems with our health service — hospital overcrowding and lengthy waiting lists— the housing crisis is one that has never really gone away. Even when things are going through a ‘good’ patch, relatively speaking, theproblems remain there, cruelly affecting people, simmering and threatening to boil over.

On a positive note, it is great to see — at long last — the arrival of the new MRI at St Luke’s Hospital. Expected to be fully functional by mid-December, it will be another vital piece of infrastructure for our local hospital.

As encouraging as it is to have the MRI, it should never have taken this long. It is astounding to think that it was in the HSE’s capital plan in 2016, and due to be in place by December 2017.

Huge credit must go to everyone who contributed to the cause, and in particular, to the Friends of St Luke’s, who fundraised and campaigned tirelessly to keep the matter on the agenda for the HSE and a carousel of different health ministers.

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