Emergency accommodation figures continue to rise in Limerick

Pat Doyle, chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust.
Pat Doyle, chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust.

LATEST figures from the Department of Housing show that there are now 257 adults and 77 children in emergency accommodation in Limerick.

The homeless figures for December 2016 show yet another increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation both in Limerick and across the country.

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan now wants the Government to speed up the delivery of social housing to meet the growing number of people in emergency accommodation.

“This is unfortunately a historic high. The latest homeless figures published by the Department of Housing show yet another increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation in Limerick,” said Deputy Quinlivan.

“In December, 257 adults were in emergency accommodation, an increase of 40 since November. At the same time, 77 children were in emergency accommodation in Limerick.

“For the first time since these figures were collated, we now have more than 7,000 people in Department of Housing funded emergency accommodation.

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“These figures are not exhaustive as they don’t include adults and children in Tusla funded domestic violence emergency accommodation, non-Irish nationals in emergency accommodation funded by the New Communities Unit of the Department of Social Protection or the 400 families trapped in Direct Provision despite having their Stamp 4 visas,” he explained.

Deputy Quinlivan went on to hit out at the Government for refusing to fully fund the purchase of up to 1000 houses offered for sale by AIB and PTSB. To date, funding has only been approved for 200 of these units and contracts signed on only 30.

The Peter McVerry Trust, the homeless and housing charity, has also urged Housing Minister Simon Coveney to fast-track measures to get empty homes back into the housing system.

The charity, which opened a new office in Limerick last December, made their call as it reacted to the latest official homeless figures which show a 91 per cent increase in homelessness since December 2014.

Chief executive Pat Doyle said that the latest figures show 7,148 people in emergency accommodation in the last week of December 2016. “This is a 36 per cent increase on December 2015 and a staggering 91 per cent increase since December 2014,” he said.

“Peter McVerry Trust is urging the Minister to fast-track measures to get empty homes back into use. We have around 50,000 empty homes in Irish cities or 13 empty homes for every homeless adult. That is in an intolerable and deeply frustrating situation,” he added.

Mr Doyle is also of the view that returning empty homes to the housing system was quicker and more economical than new build supply.

“Empty homes and commercial buildings that can be converted to residential units are the quickest wins available in the battle to make housing available for people in homelessness or on social housing waiting lists.  These empty units can be tackled immediately and help while we wait for a time when new build construction starts to impact on housing needs and waiting lists,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anti Austerity Alliance councillor Cian Prendiville has described the latest homelessness figures as “the absolute failure of the Government’s market based solution to the crisis”.

“The housing crisis is precisely the result of the failure of the market to actually provide people with their right to a home. It is not good enough to say private developers are the ‘only people who are going to build’ – we need the State to launch a programme of building social and affordable housing.

“We now have a situation where rents have smashed through the Celtic Tiger peaks while at the same time we have record numbers of people homeless and the Government are acting like they’re unrelated,” he claimed.

by Alan Jacques