Elderly people in Limerick sleeping on couches and in cars amid housing crisis

ALONE, the national charity that enables older people to age at home, has warned that for the first time they are referring increasing numbers of elderly people for social housing in Limerick.

A senior figure in the organisation told the Limerick Post that this is just a taste of what is coming down the line.

Alone was commenting as the Summary of Social Housing Assessments 2022 figures were released.

Figures released by the Department of Housing show that the number of people aged 70+ on the social housing waiting list in 2022 increased to over 2,000 for the first time, reaching 2,023 people.

In Limerick, the organisation referred six people aged between 60 and 69 to the social housing lists, Frank Dillon, Head of Communications with Alone told the Limerick Post.

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He added that some of those people are hanging on to rented accommodation “by their fingernails” and others are sleeping on couches or even in cars.

“We’re an organisation which was formed to combat loneliness but now, for the first time, that is not the issue – housing is the most important issue.

“We see what’s going on out there. People are desperate, queuing up to try to rent a house. It’s not to blame landlords but with 20-year-olds looking to rent a property, what landlord is going to take on a 69 or 70 year old that they might have to convert facilities for or be responsible for asking them to move out if they want to sell up?”

Mr Dillion said that Alone has been warning for nearly a decade that this will become a problem.

“We have a pensions system that is predicated on home ownership. 35 per cent of 20 to 44 year olds don’t own their own homes. That’s a glut that is coming down the line.”

Local authorities – including Limerick where the older dependant population is running at 37 per cent against a national average of 23 per cent – are not forward planning to cope with elderly homeless, he said.

“There just isn’t enough suitable accommodation. You can’t put someone with a medical condition four flights up. Older single people are at the bottom of the housing pile, both in the private rental market and for social housing.

“We are calling for an increasing percentage of social housing to be developed for older people to match our changing demographics.

“We needs shovels in the ground and bricks on bricks,” Mr Dillon concluded.