Concern overgrowing waiting lists for housing

A HOMELESSNESS support agency has said it is concerned about growing waiting lists and a potential homelessness “time bomb”.

Representatives of the Sophia Housing Association attended Áras an Uachtaráin last week to mark its tenth anniversary.

It provides support for 129 families and 66 single people and has facilities in Cork, Limerick, Sligo and Dublin, but co-CEO Eamonn Martin said there was concern over the number of people waiting to use its services.

“We cannot house everybody on our waiting list,” he said. “There have been changes regarding people coming from other countries and there are people of different levels who are in need.

“One of the latest moves by the Government is to look at all the houses that developers have that are empty and they are going to bring in a leasing deal where groups like us could lease them for five or 10 years.

“It’s a good idea, but we would say it should not be the only idea. In five, 10, 15 years when the economy has lifted and they [developers/state] want to sell these properties are we then going to have problems with homelessness? It could be a time bomb for the future.”

Joint CEO Jean Quinn said she was concerned about further HSE cutbacks which could affect grants to bodies such as Sophia.

She said there would need to be an increased focus on public fundraising, with Sophia managing about 200 units and with a further 150 units in development.

Mr Martin said the association did not want to maintain waiting lists that were “unrealistic” and so in some cases clients are referred to other agencies.

He said Sophia had enjoyed a success rate of between 70% and 75% in terms of taking clients out of homelessness, but said: “Very often there is not a quick solution.”

The Sophia Housing Association arose out of the Sisters of Mercy.


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