THERE are no emergency beds available in Limerick City for homeless people, with 283 adults and 109 children now listed as officially homeless.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said the issue of homelessness in Limerick was spiralling to new and concerning levels and he had never seen it so bad.
“Homeless services have spoken with me, as they do regularly, and some have advised me that there are just simply not enough available beds in the city. In fact I understand there are none.”
The latest figures reveal that there are currently 283 adults homeless in Limerick, but Deputy Quinlivan told the Dáil there are many more.
“Many are couch surfing, others living in very poor conditions often in extremely overcrowded homes and many of these are on no lists. The Mid West has 109 homeless children, which is a shameful figure, the bulk of them in Limerick City.”
He has called out the lack of available emergency accommodation in Limerick and queried what steps were being taken by the Government to address the issue.
“There is a significant number of Notices to Quit being issued. The recent issuing of such notices, en masse, to the residents of the Shannon Arms apartment complex is evidence of this. With the lack of affordable rental units available in and around the city, it is no surprise there has been an increased demand for homeless services.
“I told the Minister that we are facing a Tsunami of evictions in Limerick and these need to be stopped. The Government cannot say they haven’t been warned.”
Deputy Quinlivan also criticised the low income thresholds for social housing and supports, claiming that they make housing unattainable for many.
“Many are working families, often in huge distress, who feel utterly abandoned by the State in their hour of need. Many simply don’t earn enough to afford a mortgage but neither do they meet the income thresholds to avail of social housing support.
“Even if they did, the Limerick housing list has 2,214 people on it, and they have no hope of being housed with thousands more people in precarious HAP properties who live in fear of getting a Notice to Quit.”
He also renewed his call for a review of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), saying that successive governments had relied on the housing assistance payment for too long.
“HAP is at the discretion of the landlord and in many cases a landlord will not accept tenants who want to avail of the payment. But even if they do, the payment itself is modest.
“HAP is past its usefulness, without review it can no longer be fit for purpose. What we need is a real increase in the number of available social and truly affordable homes,” Deputy Quinlivan concluded.