149 children homeless in Limerick and Clare for up to a year

Stock photo.

CALLS have been made to prioritise social housing for young people living in emergency accommodation in Limerick and Clare as it emerged that there are 149 children experiencing homelessness in the region, some of them living in emergency accommodation for up to a year.

The latest government figures show there are 361 adults in Limerick experiencing homelessness, however the tally does not specify how many of the 149 children without a home in region are in Limerick itself.

Focus Ireland has called for urgent government action as the number of children without a home nationwide has risen to over 4,000 for the first time.

A spokesman for the charity told the Limerick Post that figures in Limerick and the Mid West relate only to those living in emergency accommodation (family hubs or hotel rooms), and do not take into account the region’s ‘hidden homeless’.

Family hubs are converted buildings where several families at a time share accommodation and facilities, intended only as a stepping stone for a number of weeks until families get their own front door.

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“Increasingly we are finding that the children are in emergency accommodation for long periods, many of them between six months and a year,” the Focus Ireland spokesman said.

“This has a very traumatic effect on children particularly, and we are saying that people who have been in emergency accommodation should be a priority for social housing because they are the ones who need housing most”.

The Focus Ireland representative  explained that official figures “don’t include families who are staying with friends and relatives after being made homeless or sleeping in their cars, and there is no regular official count in Limerick of rough sleepers”.

Between January and November last year, Focus Ireland supported 645 households in Limerick who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.

There are now 2,000 families in emergency accommodation nationally,  24 per cent higher than in November 2022.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said that not only were there more children without a home in Ireland than ever before, but more of them were also homeless for longer, increasing the harm that homelessness can cause.

“2024 must be the year the government makes a different approach to homelessness and uses all available resources to reduce the number of people who are homeless, particularly those who are homeless for long periods,” the Focus Ireland CEO said.

“The government appears to be overwhelmed by the problem of providing emergency accommodation for people who are homeless along with people who are here seeking international protection and those who are here due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Instead of seeing these as competing challenges, the government should redirect its efforts into maximising the number of long-term homeless households moving out of homeless accommodation and into their own home – this would free up emergency accommodation for asylum seekers and Ukrainian refugees.

Mr Dennigan said that his proposal was “an entirely achievable objective”, adding that “in the last two years, more social housing has been delivered than for many years, but we are not using this resource to its best effect in reducing homelessness”.

“If a fairer share of new social housing was allocated to those who have been homeless for long periods, we could reduce the harm caused by homelessness and ensure there was enough temporary accommodation for those who need this form of support.’’