27/11/2019 - 04:37
By Liz Dunphy
A homeless charity has promised to build 2,500 new social homes over the next five years and hopes to hand over keys to some homes before Christmas.
Respond already has 1,160 housing units in construction or on site, some of which will become available in December.
In 2018, the charity provided 110 families with emergency accommodation and "wraparound support" including in mental and physical health.
A total of 158 children, 94 of whom were under-5, were housed and supported by the charity last year.
Only five of these families went on to secure local authority housing, while 36 moved into private accommodation through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme. And 16 families left emergency accommodation to stay with family.
Their average length of stay in emergency accommodation was six months, the charity's annual report, which was launched today, shows.
Niamh Randall, head of advocacy and communications at Respond said: “The average turnaround time in emergency accommodation is six months. The blockage is lack of access to housing.
“We've committed to building 2,500 homes up to 2023. We have 1,160 in construction and on site, the first trench of homes will come on stream in December. We hope to hand over the keys to some of these in the run-up to Christmas."
More than 10,000 people have been homeless for eight consecutive months this year, recent Department of Housing figures reveal.
Ms Randall said that homelessness is a "hugely traumatic experience" and the charity is working to plug the housing shortage so that less people fall victim to it.
“We see both sides of the coin – the joy of handing over keys to a lifetime home and the very harsh edge of homelessness. It's very difficult to secure a place to call home and to engage with education, training and employment when you're homeless," Ms Randall said.
“We would hope that this is the last experience of being homeless that these people have, but international research shows that if you're homeless once you're more likely to experience it again.
"So we work to build resilience and look at how we can provide enough protective factors so that these people never experience homelessness again."
Respond has built 5,899 homes nationally since it was founded in 1982, with 1,000 in Dublin, 605 in Waterford and 589 in Cork.