EIGHTY-EIGHT families with 163 children accessed local authority managed emergency accommodation in Limerick and Clare during the last week of October.
According to the government’s latest Homeless Report, 62 of these cases were counted as single-parent families.
During the same timeframe, the report from the Department of Housing cites 345 homeless adults in the region. Of these, 203 were male and 145 were female.
The largest number were in the 25- to 44 age group (195), with a further 53 aged between 18-24 age group, and 91 aged between 45-64. Six people over the age of 65 were also counted.
Labour Party Housing spokesperson and Limerick TD Jan O’Sullivan called on the Government and the Limerick and Clare Councils to take every step possible to take families out of homeless services and into homes before Christmas.
“The latest homeless statistics show that homelessness in Limerick and Clare has gone up again in the region with 21 more children in homeless accommodation, half of the total increase of 42 in one month.
“This spiral has to be halted with more efforts to keep families out of homelessness, a rent freeze, opening up of empty homes and speeding up the building of social and affordable houses and apartments,” Deputy O’Sullivan added.
“When I spoke in the Dáil no-confidence motion on the Housing Minister I quoted from a report by the Royal College of Physicians which concluded that “Children experiencing poor housing and homelessness have a 25 per cent increased risk of severe physical and mental ill-health and disability during childhood and early adulthood.”
“The failure of the Government’s housing plan to meet any of its targets and the fact that homeless is rising month on month shows that we need a fundamental change of policy.
“At this time of year when families should be looking forward to the joy of Christmas, far too many either have no home or are worried that they could lose the home they have at any moment. Ireland has to do better for its vulnerable families,” she declared.
Head of Policy and Communications at Novas, Una Burns considers the rising number of children experiencing homelessness in Limerick and Clare as “extremely troubling”.
“Our own figures reflect this increase and last year we worked with 592 children in Limerick alone. Since then, we have opened a family hub in Ennis for five families as well as supporting an additional 30 families living in emergency accommodation there.
“The emotional and physical impact of living in high-stress, insecure, congregated settings on children in profound and long-lasting. Indeed we are still unaware of the full extent of the impact of this trauma. However, we know that this type of living has resulted in significant delays in developmental milestones, increased anxiety among children and young people and more presentations to emergency departments,” she concluded.