Limerick is one of the worst places in Ireland for overcrowded accommodation, according to a new report from RTÉ. The channel’s Prime Time programme highlighted the levels of overcrowding in shared accommodation in Ireland and Limerick did not escape scrutiny.
The RTÉ Investigations Unit found that only 4 percent of rental properties were inspected last year but Limerick had a 100 percent failure rate. Because the number of properties inspected was so low, the results may not be representative, but the failure rate in Limerick has come as no surprise to those working to fight homelessness.
“We are fully aware there is an issue of overcrowding and sub-standard accommodation in Limerick,” said Tracey Reddy, Housing Services Manager at Mid West Simon. “People come to us on a daily basis dealing with these issues. We try to support them to engage with their landlords to bring the apartment up to standard or failing that to report the situation.
#The reality, however, is that people are willing to accept substandard accommodation because they are terrified of being made homeless.”
“We have many people come into our office who are ‘couch surfing’, people who have been pushed out of the rental market and are forced to move between friends and family sleeping on couches and floors,” Reddy said. “These people are part of the hidden homeless crisis, and are not reflected in homelessness statistics. For these people the choice is overcrowding or homelessness. When people in this situation come to Mid West Simon, we find we come up against the same issue, there is no organisation who would support people to stay in unsafe accommodation, but we also understand their need to keep a roof over their head. There is simply not enough suitable and affordable accommodation in Limerick at present.”
RTÉ’s report comes as the number of families and children in emergency accommodation continues to rise and homelessness generally is on the increase. About 147 children are in emergency accommodation in the Mid-West.
But homelessness figures do not include those renting sub-standard homes. Prime Time’s investigation found one man in Dublin who had not had access to a shower for 504 days. While precise details about the nature of overcrowded accommodation in Limerick are not yet available, the inspection failure rate suggests that similar problems face tenants in the city and county.
Limerick-based organisations continue to battle homelessness, helping those in need and organising fundraising and awareness events. Just this week, Mid West Simon will hold a concert in St. Mary’s Cathedral on 9 November to raise funds, while Novas is holding a seminar on childhood experiences of homelessness on 10 November in the Belltable Theatre. Information on these events can be found on midwestsimon.ie and novas.ie, respectively.