McVerry says future in homelessness and housing sector ‘grim’

Charity sees 10-fold increase in individuals supported in past five years

Fr Peter McVerry: “Working to prevent people becoming homeless is becoming increasingly important and we commit staff and resources to this objective. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.

Fr Peter McVerry: “Working to prevent people becoming homeless is becoming increasingly important and we commit staff and resources to this objective. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.

Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 01:01

The future for the homelessness and housing sector looks “grim” and keeping people in their homes is more important than ever, housing rights activist Fr Peter McVerry has said.

Writing in the annual report from the Peter McVerry Trust, the housing charity he founded in 1983, he says: “As home repossessions gather pace, as tenants who live in buy-to-let investments going into receivership are evicted and as private landlords increasingly turn away and even evict social welfare tenants to replace them with people who can afford the higher rents, a flood of new homeless people and families is coming down the river.

“Working to prevent people becoming homeless is becoming increasingly important and we commit staff and resources to this objective.”

According to the annual report, the charity has seen an almost 10-fold increase in individuals supported in the past five years. Whereas the charity supported 383 people six years ago, last year it helped 3,586.

The trust was founded by Fr McVerry in response to homelessness among young boys and men. While it supports families and other groups, most of its clients are men between 18 and 35. This group accounted for 66 per cent of cases last year.

Some 2,124 people were provided with residential placements of varying lengths, from emergency short-term to permanent, and 1,001 people accessed the homelessness prevention service. The number of meals provided rose from 57,000 in 2012 to 75,000 last year.

It also began operating outside Dublin for the first time, with the establishment of services in Limerick. The three areas, after homelessness, in which people needed most support were drug use, family issues and mental health.

The Peter McVerry Trust also opened a 16-bed facility in the south Dublin county area, a 35-bed facility for young homeless in the south inner city, and a 10-bed facility for couples on the north side.

“We try to treat everyone with the dignity and respect which is their due,” writes Fr McVerry, “even if we cannot solve their homeless problem.”