Threshold Limerick Advice Centre To Be Officially Opened By Minister Willie O'Dea

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Minister Willie O’Dea will cut the ribbon on the new premises at 26 Catherine Street at 12.00pm followed by official launch in the adjacent Best Western Pery’s Hotel

Threshold’s new housing advice centre in Limerick will be officially opened today by Mr. Willie O’Dea T.D., Minister for Defence. The new centre located at 26 Catherine Street provides free and confidential information, advice and support for people with housing problems. Threshold’s new centre has already helped over 400 people in Limerick since it opened its doors at the end of August, by challenging threats of eviction, helping people to recover rent deposits from landlords, and by seeking improvements for people in substandard accommodation.

Louise Kennedy, Co-ordinator of the new Limerick Advice Centre, said:

“Threshold is committed to helping the people of Limerick to secure and maintain good quality housing suited to their needs. In the coming months, we will be setting up outreach clinics so that people can get our advice in their local area. Our longer-term plans include a placement service that will help vulnerable people who need our help to get private rented accommodation.”

Threshold is a national not-for-profit organisation established in 1978. Threshold’s housing advice services are focused on people who are in greatest need of support, including people living at the low-priced end of the rented market, people living in social housing, and people who are homeless. The number of immigrants seeking Threshold’s help is also growing considerably. Threshold provides advice on housing rights, contacts landlords or local authorities on behalf of tenants with problems, and brings disputes to the Private Residential Tenancies Board. Last year, Threshold helped over 20,000 people through its existing advice centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

The private rented sector in Limerick has doubled over the last decade, from 3,423 units in 1991 to 6,729 units in 2002. Rented accommodation in Limerick is expensive for families on modest incomes. For example, a family with three children will currently pay an average of €836 per month for a three-bedroom home. For a family living on average industrial earnings [€30,125 pa], this represents a third (33%) of their income, while for a family on minimum wage [€15,912 pa] it is almost two-thirds (63%) of their income.

Other problems include the poor quality of accommodation at the lower end of the market. Callers to Threshold have encountered problems such as damp and mould growing on walls and ceilings, a lack of hot and cold running water, and vermin infestation. This seriously impacts on the quality of life of families and children.

Threshold’s new Limerick Advice Centre is staffed by four people and its opening hours are from 9.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. People with a housing problem can make an appointment or drop in to the centre. They can also have their query answered by phone: 061-405400, email: limerick@threshold.ie, or by letter.

Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold, said:

“Some of the poorest people in Limerick live in private rented accommodation. Almost two-thirds of people on local authority waiting lists are living in rented accommodation, while over 2,400 people are in receipt of rent supplement. Vulnerable people who fear losing their home if they complain to their landlord, or who have nowhere to turn when they get illegally evicted, deserve the professional help and support provided by Threshold.

Our new service has been made possible with the support of the Government’s Dormant Accounts Scheme, managed by Pobail, and through the generosity of the J.P. MacManus Charitable Foundation. As this funding is only for an initial two-year pilot project, the challenge in the future will be to ensure the service gets mainstream funding. We are today asking Minister Willie O’Dea to support us at the cabinet table to ensure that the people of Limerick will continue to get Threshold’s help when they need it.”

ENDS

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