Number of children homeless in Limerick continues to rise

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THE latest homeless figures show a further increase in the number of children now living in emergency accommodation in Limerick.

For the sixth month in a row, the number of people classified as homeless nationwide has remained above 10,000 with a total of 10,275 in July 2019. This amounts to 6,497 adults and 3,778 children in emergency accommodation – an increase of 103 children on the June figures.

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The number of families in emergency accommodation in the Mid-West increased from 75 to 81 in the last month.

According to the government’s July report on homelessness, there were 343 adults homeless in the Mid-West — 212 male and 131 female.  The latest report also indicates that 270 of these people were in Limerick and the remaining 73 in Clare.

The most startling aspect of the report is the fact that many children are starting new school terms living in hotel rooms and ‘family hubs’. The number of children homeless in the Mid-West increased from 138 this June to 154 in July.

Head of Policy at Novas in Limerick, Dr Una Burns said the figures do not include many categories of families and individuals such as those rough sleeping, squatting, sofa surfing and the many other forms of hidden homeless.

The largest provider of homeless services in Limerick, Novas work with children whose developmental milestones are not being met, as a direct result of homelessness.

“Because of the immensely confined space they live in, their ability to crawl and walk is delayed. Because they have no cooking, storage or refrigeration facilities, they cannot be weaned properly and their chewing and swallowing reflexes are stunted. The trauma of homelessness and the subsequent adverse childhood experiences are significant barriers to normal childhood development,” Dr Burns told the Limerick Post.

Focus Ireland has called for the Government to urgently review its policies to tackle the homelessness crisis. The charity also stated that such a review must examine very carefully how children are being treated in the homeless crisis.

Focus chief executive Pat Dennigan said that damage homelessness is causing to children was again highlighted this week as over 2,250 children who are homeless went back to school.

|There’s a real danger that these human stories – and these children – get lost behind the numbers.  We know through our work supporting families that homelessness is very damaging to children,” he said.

“When you think of over 2,250 school children homeless, that really brings home the stark extent of this human crisis and the need for more action.”

Focus Ireland staff and volunteers put together hundreds of school packs to help children who are homeless as they returned to school after the holidays.

Commenting on the July figures, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy stated: “We continue to do everything we can to get people out of homelessness but the increase in July shows that this remains a huge challenge.

“There are fewer families and children in emergency accommodation today than this time last year. Of course there shouldn’t be any, but the fact that there are less, despite continuing high levels of presentations each month, speaks to the huge response from NGO’s, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, local authorities and the Government.”