The level of homelessness in the city has reached an all time high in the city according to the manager of The Good Shepherd Centre, Fergus Keane.
Currently all the beds in the centre are full and their housing units are also all occupied.
“There are 40 people here at the moment between the beds in the centre, the units at Fr Thomas Place and our community housing. I have never seen it this busy. As we support one person to leave and move out into the community there are others waiting for that place,” he said.
He attributes the ‘massive shortage in private rental accommodation in the city’ as the main cause and also the reduction in rent allowance for people on social welfare.
“The rent allowance is €390 per month and there are almost no properties for one person available for that rent and for a lot of people shared accommodation is not a realistic option. This problem has been building up for a long time and the reduction in the rent allowance alongside the increase in people now renting as opposed to buying their homes has caused this crisis. There is a new middle class who are now renting and not buying their homes.
“The numbers of people availing of our services are increasing all the time. The centre offers short term emergency accommodation - the whole point is to move people on quickly so that they can live independently in the community but this is becoming increasingly difficult,” he said.
He pointed out that the local authority, with whom the centre work closely with are attempting to attract private landlords under the Rental Acommodation Scheme, whereby the council leases the property for a number of years.
“What needs to happen is for more landlords to avail of this scheme and the government needs to provide more capital funding for housin. A combination of both this things would go a long,” he said.
Councillor Andrew McGuinness (Fianna Fail) said that the ‘entire system needs to be revamped’.
“The reality is that so many people are approved for Rent Allowance but the maximum rate does not meet rental prices. The same applies to the RAS scheme with dozens of housing applicants approved but landlords simply cannot afford to rent their properties for the rates offered. The housing system is failing people who are in dire circumstances and genuine need of assistance,” he said.