NOVAS 2022 Annual Report highlights the rise in homeless figures and the limited pathways out of homelessness for many people
It is in the backdrop of the highest number of homeless people ever recorded in the state that NOVAS launches its 2022 annual report. In this year, the organisation supported 6,088 people. This is an increase of 1.8% from the previous twelve months and 202% over a ten-year period.
The report, launched today, Friday 27th of October, by the Minster for State in the Department of Housing, Kieran O Donnell, showed that people where supported across a range of innovative services including tenancy sustainment, family support, street outreach and temporary homeless accommodation. It was in the latter services that the greatest challenges arose, as fewer people were able to access emergency accommodation because of the protracted length of time people spent living there. A lack of housing, particularly one-bed units, has made exit pathways from homelessness extraordinarily difficult.
NOVAS’ CEO Una Deasy commented that ‘single adults spend too long stuck in homeless accommodation with the system becoming blocked and people newly presenting as homeless unable to access the services they need. The opportunities for people to move from homeless accommodation are becoming increasingly scarce as the private rented market continues to contract’. Demonstrating this point, NOVAS’ 2022 Annual Report highlights that in their women’s services in Dublin the number of residents able to access accommodation dropped from 333 to 224 from 2014 to 2022, despite more than doubling capacity during the same period. Similarly, in 2018 in Limerick, their Temporary Emergency Provision (TEP) supported 320 individuals across the twelve-month period but last year just 181 people were able to access accommodation there.
Helen McInerney is one of the residents in TEP. She is 54 years old and has been homeless for 15 months, unable to access appropriate housing. Before this she lived in the private rented market her whole life until her landlord decided to sell her apartment. Helen explains that she never thought she would be homeless; ‘I lived independently my whole life without any issues’. She describes the ‘daily struggles’ she faces and the devastating impact being homeless has had on her familial relationships. ‘I have nowhere to meet my grandchildren. Now we meet on a street corner. It is devastating. I can’t wait until I can cook for them again, have them over, be a meaningful part of their lives’.
The solution to this crisis is more housing. Deasy says ‘we urgently need an accelerated supply of one-bedroom units of social housing and simultaneous protections in the private market until sufficient housing comes on stream’. NOVAS is playing its part and today launched a development of eight one-bed units in Limerick city, where people will move directly from homeless services.
Minister Kieran O’ Donnell said: ‘Reducing and preventing homelessness remains a top priority for the Government. ‘Housing for All’ recognises the challenges of homelessness and sets out actions to support and to exit homelessness’. Minister O’Donnell described this new development as ‘an excellent demonstration of partnership between the Department of Housing, the local authority and NOVAS, whereby vacant properties were transformed into vibrant city-centre homes, giving people a home for life, an excellent standard of accommodation and a new sense of security.’ He said ‘the department was committed to working with local authorities and approved housing bodies to generate more opportunities like this throughout the country’.
The Newenham Street apartments are the first Georgian redevelopment that has achieved an A3 BER rating and provides city-centre housing in previous derelict properties. It is an excellent demonstration of effective use of our existing built environment.
The full report can be read here:https://www.novas.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Novas-Annual-Report-2022-v3-5.pdf