Homeless organisation reports 375% rise in people seeking help since 2010

David Raleigh

Nearly 5,000 people were supported last year by homeless organisation Novas, which is headquartered in Limerick.

In its annual report, published this morning, Novas CEO Michael Goulding said: “In 2017 we supported 4,572 people who were homeless, at risk of homelessness or recovering from addiction. This was the highest number of people ever supported by our organisation.”

Since it was set up eight years ago Novas, which has services across the mid-west region and in Dublin, has seen an increase of nearly 400% in people seeking its help.

“Despite the evident economic recovery, the scourge of homelessness continues unabated,” said Mr Goulding.

Since 2010 Novas has seen a rise of 375% of people seeking its help.

Mr Goulding said “an over-reliance on the private rented market has resulted in unfettered and unsustainable rent increases that have forced many households into homelessness”.

Another reason for the rise in people seeking help included “more people than ever seeking support for addiction and recovery”.

Novas’s Chairperson, Greg Maxwell, said an “extremely hostile” housing market was another reason for the homelessness crisis.

“Rent control efforts by government failed and evictions continued to increase. Rent levels reached those at the time of the ‘super crash’ 10 years ago,” Mr Maxwell said.

Families became homeless, and house prices surged making it impossible for most families to afford buying a house.

To cope with demand, Novas has “expanded services significantly” Maxwell said.

There was an “almost 50% increase in the number of clients using our Limerick city out-of-hours service to 1900”.

He said there was “great concern” over families being caught in the net of homelessness.

A total of 146 families had sought emergency accommodation in Limerick.

To cope with demand a second night shelter was opened in Limerick, as well as a new family ‘hub’ service in Dublin.

An outreach support service in Tipperary and Housing First service in Kerry, “fast-tracking people into long-term accommodation” were also opened in 2017.

However, it has emerged that Limerick City and County Council is to close down the Temporary Emergency Provision (TEP) hostel ON Edward Street after complaints from local residents about anti-social behaviour.

During 2017, there were almost 7,000 presentations to TEP.

A date for the closure has not been given and the Council said it would arrange for alternative accommodation for the hostel users prior to the closure.

The number of families requiring support in its Intensive Family Support Service remained high throughout the year, however, due to “significant restructuring in 2016”, waiting lists for IFS support were eliminated in 2017.

In this twelve-month period, 176 families were referred, with all but one successfully accessing support.

Last Christmas the Novas IFS Annual Toy Appeal supported 895 children, the largest campaign to date.

During the year Novas acquired 23 long-term family homes in Limerick and Dublin to support families experiencing homelessness and living in emergency B&B accommodation.

A rise of 5% of people aged between 18-21 have sought support, and almost 40% of all clients accessing accommodation services were under 30 years of age, while 65% were less than 40 years old.

However, “some services continue to suffer legacy cuts in funding despite the huge increase in demand”, said Mr Maxwell.

The future outlook was not good, he added: “Regrettably it looks like more of the same. Indeed even that may be optimistic.”

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