The national housing and homeless charity, Peter McVerry Trust, has published a new report examining the factors impacting on rural homelessness in Ireland. The report sets out five key actions to help tackle rural homelessness as the charity reports that the number of homeless adults in rural counties rose to over 1,000 for the first time in May 2019.
Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, said “The publication of this report is about adding to our understanding of homelessness in Ireland and offering solutions to the problems that people and communities face across rural Ireland. While the vast majority of people who are impacted by homelessness are found in our cities, there is a growing and significant number of people homeless in rural counties too.”
“This report shows that as of July 2019 there were over 1,400 people across rural Ireland who were homeless. That is up 12% on last year and the number of adults has risen to over 1,000 for the first time. While the number is significant it remains a number that can be tackled and tackled quickly and that is the thrust of our report because we are putting forward actions that can bring the number down very quickly.”
“Among our five recommendations is the need to have a distinct rural homelessness strategy that takes into consideration the different ways in which we have to tackle more dispersed locations and the absence of appropriate supports in terms of mental health and addiction services. We also need to ensure that in rural counties the delivery of social housing matches the social housing need in that county. In every rural county across Ireland the greatest need is for single person homes, yet these are the least common type of home delivered.”
“We also point to the need to establish multi-disciplinary centres for people to access, but also from which to base highly mobile, intensive support teams to visit and engage with people impacted by homelessness. These teams would also include mental health and addiction specialists.
“The final measure we have set out is to expand the mortgage to rent scheme to households with an income up to €50,000. We need this, particularly in rural areas, as the level of long term mortgage arrears is highest in rural counties and thus we are most likely to see repossessions in rural counties.”
Concluding, Mr Doyle said “Our view is that rural homelessness should be addressed in a manner separate and distinct from city homelessness. If we have the right actions and energy we can really make a dent in rural homelessness and reach a point where the majority of counties across Ireland have put in place measures to effectively end homelessness.”
The full report can be downloaded here.