ALCOHOL addictions and family disputes are the main causes people from county Limerick end up homeless according to a new report.
Figures obtained by the Limerick Leader show that 608 people were homeless in the city in 2012, the most recent available figures, while a further 417 were recorded as being homeless in county Limerick.
The main causes behind homelessness in the city were recorded as being domestic violence, in 198 cases, and family disputes, in 120 cases, and in the county alcohol and drug addictions accounted for 280 of the 417 cases, followed by family disputes.
The figures were released by the Mid-West Simon Community to highlight the need for public support of their services, as they struggle to help the ‘new poor’ and the ‘hidden homeless’.
Most homeless people in the city are listed as being in the 20-29 age category, and the majority of people presenting as being homeless are from Limerick, though many previously resided in other counties, and non-EU states.
Of the 608 homeless in the city, 273 found a place to stay in a hostel or refuge, while 78 stayed with friends or family for a time.
Twenty-one homeless people in the city had been released from prison, 12 were discharged from hospital, and six were discharged from a mental hospital.
Intimidation, a house fire, evictions, barring orders, and breakdowns in living arrangements were also factors. In the county, over 300 men presented themselves to homeless services, and most were again aged in the 20-38 age bracket.
Of the 417 people recorded as presenting themselves to county homeless services and centres, 161 were from Limerick, while 65 were from Cork, 48 were from Dublin, and 15 were from Tipperary.
The most recent available statistics from homeless services in the Mid-West shows that 2,219 people presented to homeless services in the Mid-West in 2012.
The Mid-West Simon Community is aiming to raise €100,000 this year for its services, through a ‘sleep out’ challenge in the city.
People across Limerick and beyond are encouraged to sleep out in the Gaelic Grounds on October 3 from 8pm to 6pm, and individually raise at least €250 to help fund the services of the Mid-West Simon Community.
“Our goal is not to replicate the conditions of homelessness, but only to highlight this serious crisis that is reality for so many,” said Jackie Bonfield, manager of the Mid-West Simon Community.
The challenge is to raise awareness of the ‘hidden homeless’ living amongst us - many of whom have not come forward to seek help.
“They do not live on the street, but instead live by moving from friend to friend, relative to relative, never calling a place home,” she said. Similar events are also being held in Ennis, Kilrush and Thurles.
Ms Bonfield said the increase in demand for their services has resulted in what could be considered a “perfect storm” - the housing crisis, high unemployment rates, low rent allowance limits and evictions.
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea, Sinn Fein city councillor Maurice Quinlivan and the Mayor of Limerick, councillor Michael Sheahan, are among those to take up the challenge. There will be entertainment on the night to keep spirits high as temperatures dip, while there will also be designated quiet sleep zones.
Over 80 people have now signed up for sleep-outs in the four venues across the Mid-West, but over 200 are expected to sign up in total. Call 061 608980 or log on to midwestsimon.ie to sign up.