Novas’ Annual Report highlights rising demand for services as client numbers increase by 375% since 2010

Novas’ 2017 Annual Report highlights the continued demand for services. In the twelve-month period, Novas supported 4,572 people, an increase of 29% from the previous year and 370% since 2010, reflecting the extent of the national crisis.

While, in all of Novas services, demand exceeded capacity, the significant pressure points related to the increase in single adults seeking accommodation and the number of families who presented as homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Throughout the year Novas worked with 750 children, the largest number to date. Some 450 of these was through its Intensive Family Support Service in Limerick, the others via services in west Cork, Tipperary and Dublin.

Una Burns, Head of Policy and Communications with Novas, explained that the organisation provided support to families in a variety of ways. ‘We acquire long-term housing in the community that is tenanted by formerly homeless families. We also advocate for families to landlords, local authorities and other approved housing bodies. The support we provided to families living in B&B accommodation helps them maintain a routine and reduce the trauma experienced by children who are homeless. We provide laundry vouchers so families have clean clothes, we have developed a meal programme to ensure families have access to a nutritious evening meal and we also support families with school attendance.’

The Metropolitan Mayor of Limerick, Cllr. Daniel Butler, who officially launched the report, commended Novas on the ‘tireless work’ they do to support vulnerable families in Limerick. He stated that while it was Novas’ and the council’s ‘ambition to secure long-term housing for families as soon as possible, it was tremendously important that they receive intensive and ongoing support by professional and compassionate staff while experiencing homelessness’. He noted ‘that the dedicated B&B worker employed by Novas was a vital intervention in reducing the trauma experienced by homeless children’. He congratulated Novas and the council on this targeted approach.

Significant rough sleeping in Limerick has been avoided through the development of a Temporary Emergency Provision (TEP). This is a joint initiative between Novas and Limerick City and County Council in response to the increasing number of people in need of accommodation. Burns explains that ‘in Limerick we are more fortunate than other cities, that we do not have an ongoing rough sleeping issue because of the pro-active way in which the council responded to the crisis. Last year there were more than 7,500 referrals to TEP and the majority were able to access accommodation’.

The organisation has also developed Housing First services in Limerick and Kerry in collaboration with the local authorities in both counties. International and national evidence indicates that the programme works. Housing retention rates of 85% have been achieved for people traditionally not considered housing ready, people who have complex needs and long histories of homelessness. ‘The combination of housing and access to ongoing and intensive support works very well in supporting people to maintain tenancies, where formerly they would have broken down. Housing First provides better outcomes for our clients and for society’, explains Burns.

The full report can be accessed here: Download PDF.