Mid West Simon Community introduced an innovative Tenancy Sustainment project in the summer of 2020 called Clann Nua.  ‘Clann Nua’ meaning New Family, was developed by Mid West Simon Community in response to the shortage of single unit property which is resulting in single people having to remain in emergency accommodation for longer than necessary. Jackie Bonfield, CEO of Mid West Simon Community said “Clann Nua provides the opportunity for two or more previously homeless people to share one permanent rental housing unit, these are acquired through CAS/RAS funding or through the Limerick County Council and Clare County Council long term social lease with a private landlord”.

Jackie continued, “at the moment we have 16 Clann Nua tenants accommodated in 8 housing units in Limerick. This project is expanding rapidly and we expect that by the end of 2021 the project will have increased by 100% in Limerick. The programme is now being rolled out in Clare, with Clare County Council in the last few weeks. We have 11 Clann Nua tenants recently accommodated in 3 housing units, with another 8-10 clients expected to be housed in these shared household arrangements in Ennis, during the next few months.

This is a very exciting progamme for us as an organisation focussed on providing homes for people but more importantly for the clients who now have a home, a new life and a move forward”.

The overall size of the housing unit and the number of available bedrooms dictates the number of tenants able to share a particular property. Referrals to the project are identified and directed in partnership with the Limerick Homeless Action Team, Mid West Simon and in consultation with clients to ensure their needs are met.

Clann Nua tenants are provided with a 24/7 on-call care support service based on clients individual needs. The care plans are developed in partnership with clients and agreed support measures regularly evaluated. Most of the support measures include mental health support, addiction interventions and referrals, difficult behaviour management, personal growth, budgeting and independent skills promotion and learning. Some of the identified advantages of the shared living approach include rent and utilities cost affordability – it is significantly less expensive to share the cost of the renting and utility bills with other tenants rather than paying them individually. Peer support plays a significant role as well as companionship tackling feelings of loneliness and isolation; if two people are pursuing a common lifestyle choice, such as sobriety, they may be able to encourage and reinforce each other.  Service users of Mid West Simon’s have reported that the on-going supports are of great benefit to them.

Jackie added “In the midst of a housing crisis we must strive to be innovative and find solutions that can have immediate impact and benefits to the most vulnerable people in our community, the wait and see approach holds no hope for people struggling in emergency accommodation, Clann Nua is one such solution”.