‘We need more building, we need more affordable homes’ – Kilkenny campaigner
By COLIN BARTLEY
A SHRINKING rental market and people not having access to mortgages are driving the homeless crisis in Kilkenny a local campaigner has said.
Noel Sherry, Manager of the Good Shepherd Centre in Kilkenny, believes the lack of access to private rental accommodation in Kilkenny is worrying and the homeless issue will only get worse until this problem is addressed.
Noel told KilkennyNow.ie: “What’s really worrying is access to private rental accommodation in Kilkenny – this is shrinking.
“Kilkenny’s rents are the highest in the South East and that is why it has become a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ). The reason they are the highest is that there is not an adequate supply of private rented accommodation.
“People are not getting access to mortgages either, ” Noel exclaims.
Noel feels the long-term prognosis, unless policies change, is the problem will continue to get worse.
“The real issue is not people falling into homelessness, it is people not being able to access accommodation.
“The traditional paths into homelessness have completely changed due to our housing crisis. Groups who were not vulnerable to homelessness in the past, such as people with disabilities and the elderly, now they are far more vulnerable.”
The whole dynamic of homelessness has changed according to Noel – the reasons why people are becoming homeless and who is becoming homeless.
“Thirty years ago it was 95% men and 5% women who were homeless, now the average is 60% men and 40% women nationally. People are not becoming homeless now because of addiction, people are becoming homeless because of a housing crisis, which has completely changed everything.”
In the latest homeless figures for Kilkenny saw an increase of one in the last three months, and Noel said this leveling off is not by accident.
“Recently we have seen great success in dealing with homelessness in Kilkenny. Hotel use has been reduced since 2017, which has seen the homeless budget decrease by 22% in Kilkenny and the main reason for this is they are using fewer hotel rooms.
“This policy is working because already this year we at the Good Shepherd Centre have provided 43 homes. By years-end, we hope to make that about 75-80 homes. This is work being done in conjunction with the council, which is very positive work.
“ Kilkenny compared to other counties has been very innovative and successful in its efforts to address homelessness,” Noel added.
Noel makes it clear that despite the success a lot more work must be done.
“It still doesn’t take away the fact we need more building, we need more affordable homes – those are just the hard facts.”