Homeless family numbers double over past year

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The new Focus Ireland apartment development in Rhebogue.

THE number of families who are homeless in the Mid West has doubled in the last year, while the number of individuals without a roof over their heads has risen by more than one quarter.

The stark increases emerged as Limerick City and County Council and Focus Ireland marked the completion of a new housing project at Rhebogue on the Old Dublin Road.

Sixteen families or individuals will get the key to their own front door shortly with the completion of the new social housing apartments.

Built by Focus Housing Association, the Approved Housing Body (AHB) arm of Focus Ireland, the new homes will help some of the 2,000 people who are on the social housing waiting lists in the city and county. The development will provide 12 two-bed and four one-bed apartments.

Family homelessness in the Mid West region, which includes Limerick and Clare, has doubled from 28 families in April 2021 to 57 families in April 2022.

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Commenting on Limerick homelessness specifically, Gavin Donaldson, Head of Development in the region for Focus Ireland, said: “The number of adults experiencing homelessness in Limerick is unfortunately on the rise, as we emerge post-Covid, with adult homelessness 27.5 per cent higher in April 2022 compared to April 2021.

Mr Donaldson added: “Working with local authorities, the Department of Housing, the Housing Finance Agency, and other stakeholders so that we can quickly ramp up our delivery of good quality, sustainable homes is how we can ultimately see an end to homelessness. Focus Housing Association currently manages just over 1,100 homes across the country, and we want to double that by 2025.”

While the number of people on Limerick’s housing waiting lists has come down in recent years, with 1,949 households on the waiting list in 2021 compared to 2,081 in 2020, nationally, homelessness is rising and has returned to pre-pandemic levels according to latest figures released by the Department of Housing for April 2022.

Jan Mingle, Director of Property at Focus Ireland, said: “Returning to where we were pre-pandemic and hitting more than 10,000 living in emergency accommodation once more is hugely disappointing and demonstrates we are undoing a lot of what was achieved during the pandemic.”

Sarah Newell of Limerick City and County Council’s Housing Unit said: This is one of a number of projects we are working on with Focus Housing and we are looking forward to continuing that partnership to deliver on Limerick’s ‘Housing for All’ targets over the next five years.”