City families at greater risk of homelessness

Homeless-teenNOVAS Initiatives, a national charity providing services to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, have reported a 236 per cent increase in the number of referrals to their Intensive Family Support service in Limerick city.

Highlighting a growing homeless crisis and calling for urgent national action,  Novas chief executive Michael Goulding, said that while Ireland was exiting the ECB bailout, it was not being felt by those who were struggling to keep a roof over their head.

He urged the Government to stop cutting core homeless funding saying, “In the last five years, some of our services have experienced significant cuts to funding, despite the fact that demand has grown by 25 per cent overall.”

“Our services cannot absorb further cuts to funding without directly impacting the people we provide support to. We will have to turn people away, people who are already marginalised, impoverished and most often homeless, with detrimental consequences to them and to our society and local communities. This is something we abhor doing, something we will strive to avoid, but it will be inevitable if further cuts are imposed,” warned Mr Goulding.

Not only are numbers presenting to Novas’ sheltered accommodation services on the rise, so too are the number of families presenting to its Intensive Family Support (IFS) service in the city.

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The IFS service is largely a preventative service, working to keep the family unit together in their own home. In 2012, the number of referrals in Limerick City increased by 236 per cent. Over 130 families were supported by the IFS service in 2012.

The Report, which was launched by Minister for State Jan O’Sullivan, revealed a 25 per cent increase in service demand with almost one third of people accessing its accommodation services now under 25 years of age.

While the organisation provides services in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Clare, more than two-thirds of its clients are from Limerick.

“There’s no doubt the recession has been an attributing factor for homelessness. I made sure that there was no cuts in the budget for homelessness this year. We hope to increase it as soon as we can but it was important to stabilise it right now,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, the redevelopment of Novas’ Brother Stephen Russell House — the oldest homeless service in the city — was also launched.

The project, which is being funded by the Department of Environment and the JP McManus Charitable Foundation with a generous contribution of €1.75 million, will take approximately 15 months to complete, providing 40 jobs in the city. Brother Russell House has been providing supported accommodation for homeless men in Limerick for 35 years. The redevelopment will provide longterm, permanent, supported housing where each resident will have their own bedroom.

“We believe it is the least that people who have been homeless for many years deserve,” said Novas chief executive Michael Goulding.