Peter McVerry Trust is committed to responding to the housing needs of young people exiting State care. As an organisation that was initially established to respond to the needs of homeless children, and which currently operates four U18 residential services, we are acutely aware of the challenges faced by young adults.
Two of the four U18 residential services that we run have an adjacent semi-independent unit. This means that on turning 18, young people can progress to a semi-independent unit and not experience a complete rupture in the relationships developed within the service, and yet are challenged to take increasing responsibility for their own development and lifestyle choices.
Peter McVerry Trust also ensures that some units in any of our new housing developments are ring-fenced for people who are exiting or have a history of State care, or who may be in transitional aftercare accommodation programmes. This means that we have a dedicated and constant pipeline of housing units for young people ageing out of U18s services and aftercare programmes.
In March 2020, we opened our first Aftercare Housing unit in Co. Wicklow. This is the first service of its kind in the county and will play a vital role in preventing youth homelessness in the area.
In the lead up to the development of Rebuilding Ireland, Peter McVerry Trust successfully lobbied for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to develop a specific Capital Assistance Scheme for young people exiting State care. This proposal was accepted and integrated into Rebuilding Ireland and is a hugely significant development.
As a result, TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, carries out annual reviews of the number of young people in State care who are approaching their 18th birthday and are at risk of becoming homeless. This work informs each local authority for this very vulnerable cohort, a cohort that before this move would be the last to be allocated a social housing unit because they could not register for social housing until they turned 18.
At present, Peter McVerry Trust provides aftercare housing and supports to young people across Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Westmeath, Laois and Longford.
Watch the video below to hear Nicole talk about how Peter McVerry Trust supported her as she made the transition from residential U18s care to independent living.