Housing and homeless agency Novas, which works with vulnerable individuals and families in Limerick and the mid-west, has said it helped over 4,500 people last year.

In its annual report released today, it warns of the worrying trend that those becoming homeless are getting younger.

Novas works with homeless people, and those at risk of becoming homeless, in Limerick, Kerry and Tipperary.

The escalation of the homelessness crisis, coupled with more people than ever seeking support for addiction, has resulted in an unprecedented year for the service.

Last year, Novas supported 4,572 people - a rise of 29%, resulting in its busiest year ever.

Demand for the service has risen steadily, and is up 375% since 2010.

The agency opened a second emergency shelter in Limerick city centre to prevent rough sleeping, and it now offers 30 beds each night.

They have been full every night of the year, according to Novas.

Both shelters got almost 7,000 referrals last year.

The report also warns that the age of those becoming homeless is getting younger.

Those aged between 18 and 21 almost doubled to 9%, while over 65% of those accessing accommodation services were aged under 40.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences