National housing charity Threshold has today warned of an increase in the level of older people at risk of homelessness in the West. Its Galway office has flagged that while there was a slight decrease in the overall number of homeless adults in the region in the latest homeless figures, the number of homeless people aged 65 years and over has increased.
Department of Housing figures show that the overall number of homeless adults in the West region (Galway City & County, Mayo and Roscommon) decreased from 358 in January 2019 to 351 in January 2020, a drop of just under 2%. Despite this, there was an increase in the number of people over 65 experiencing homelessness in the region during the same period.
Commenting on the figures, Western Regional Services Manager at Threshold, Karina Timothy said: “The homeless figures only take into account those in emergency accommodation and do not capture the additional cohorts of the hidden homeless or those who are at a high risk of homelessness. There are likely far more in precarious situations, in hidden homelessness and on the brink of homelessness. This is reflected in Threshold’s Western office where, between 2018 and 2019, the number of older people availing of our services grew by a third. A disproportionate number of tenants over the age of 65, living in the Western region, required Threshold’s assistance, compared to the rest of the country.
“This speaks to a key societal challenge that the entire country will face in the very near future, as there is a sustained increase in the proportion of older people who are renting, living with little security of tenure and paying high rents. The number of renters aged 40 and over increased by 23% between the 2011 and 2016 Census and based on our client experience we would reasonably expect to see another increase in next year’s Census. These renters are vulnerable to the risk of homelessness that is inherent in the instability of the private rented sector.
One such client that Threshold has dealt with recently, Martin*, is retired and receiving his state pension. He had rented his home in the West for over ten years and was shocked when his landlord issued him a notice of termination on the basis that a family member of the landlord intended to move into the home. “Martin turned to Threshold for help,” Ms Timothy explained. “Our advisors investigated and concluded that the notice was valid; Martin would have to move out. But with little to no affordable rental to meet his needs he had very few options open to him. In supporting Martin to find a new home, his Threshold advisor liaised with the housing section of the local council. Martin had fortunately accrued enough time on the housing list to be offered a one-bed apartment with an approved housing body, and with Threshold’s help he was able to move into his forever home and no longer worry about the insecurity of renting.
“Unfortunately, not all tenants who find themselves in this position are met with such a positive outcome. We risk seeing our older population living without the stability and security of a home, which is so vital to us all. This can only be addressed by creating real security of tenure in the private rented sector through the creation of indefinite tenancies and the promotion of long-term lease agreements. These are both measures the outgoing Government committed to but have not yet been realised.”
*Client’s name has been changed to protect anonymity
Issued by Murray on behalf of Threshold
For further information please contact
Murray 01 498 0300
Mark Brennock 087 233 5923
Orna Clarke 087 677 0360
Threshold was founded in 1978 and is a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to secure a right to housing, particularly for households experiencing the problems of poverty and exclusion. Its main concentration of work is within the rented sector. The organisation operates a national office, based in Dublin, and three regional offices. Further information is available at www.threshold.ie.