Limerick has 98 children in emergency accommodation

Una Burns with Novas founder Joe McGarry at the launch of the agency's report on child homelessness last year. Photo: Oisin McHugh.
Una Burns with Novas founder Joe McGarry at the launch of the agency's report on child homelessness last year. Photo: Oisin McHugh.

FIFTY-one families, including 71 adults and 98 children, were living in emergency accommodation in Limerick on January 12.

At last Monday’s Metropolitan District council meeting, Solidarity councillor Paul Keller was told that 35 families, including 52 adults and 69 children, were in Bed and Breakfast accommodation on the same date two weeks ago.

Eighteen of these were single parents with 36 children, while the remainder of those living in B&Bs made up of 17 couples with 33 children.

The Council’s latest figures show that ten families with 13 adults and 18 children were living in the Mid-West Simon Family Hub on the Dublin Road on January 12. This figure breaks down into seven single parents with 14 children and three couples with four children.

Suaimhneas also provided shelter for six single mothers with 11 children on January 12 this year. On the same date, there were 142 individuals in emergency accommodation in Limerick.

Una Burns, Head of Policy at homeless services provider Novas, confirmed that the number of families experiencing homelessness in Limerick remains high and reflects the national family and child homeless crisis.

“The impact homelessness has on children is deeply worrying with a number of reports in recent weeks highlighting the all-encompassing impact these living arrangements have on children,” she explained.

“The Children’s Rights Alliance recently published research indicating the detrimental impact homelessness has on children’s education. TUSLA highlighted how children could not be reunited with parents because of homelessness and the Lead Medical Consultant in Temple Street Children’s Hospital stated that almost 850 children who presented to the hospital in 2018 were homeless and, in the majority of cases, their presentations were due to their ‘unsuitable and cramped living conditions’.

“Individually these reports are of grave concern, collectively they highlight the deep societal problems that are being borne from child homelessness.

“While Limerick City and County Council are working to reduce the number of families in emergency accommodation, more needs to be done to keep families in their own homes.

“Limerick is yet to become a rent pressure zone, despite the fact that it experienced the biggest rent increases in the county last year. We need to reduce our reliance on the private rented sector, with more social and affordable housing for low-income households,” Ms Burns explained.

In 2017 and 2018, Novas in partnership with Limerick City and County Council offered secure tenancies in long-term housing to 36 families who were living in Emergency Accommodation at a capital cost of over €6million.

This year they are projecting an additional 20 homeless families will benefit from secure long term housing provided by Novas with a projected capital spend of €3.6million.