Saturday 10 December 2016

Homelessness crisis could be twice as bad as thought if victims of domestic violence not counted - study

Ed Carty

Published 19/04/2016 | 10:46

Picture posed by models
Picture posed by models

The homelessness crisis could be almost twice as bad as official figures are recording as victims of domestic violence are not counted, campaigners have claimed.

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The Safe Ireland network, which supports 21 refuges across the country, said the 4,007 women and children rescued and housed in shelters in 2014 are not classed as homeless.

The most up-to-date figures from the Department of Environment put the homeless total at 5,811 at the end of February - 3,930 adults and 1,881 youngsters.

Safe Ireland chief executive Sharon O'Halloran said women and children forced to leave violent homes are being caught in the cross-fire of the national housing crisis.

"Domestic violence is simply not on the homeless agenda," she said.

"According to local authority practice, women leaving violent homes are not being considered homeless; they are seen as being out of home, as they have a home, albeit an unsafe, violent one.

"They are being rendered invisible when it comes to their right to a safe home."

Safe Ireland also said 4,831 requests for refuge could not be met in 2014 because refuges were full - 14 unmet requests every day of the year.

The agency called for a large scale study into women and children's experience of domestic violence after interviews it carried out with 40 women showed two-thirds of them suffered physical abuse on at least a weekly basis.

Also, one third of them endured physical, emotional or psychological abuse on a daily basis and half reported a serious threat to their lives such as attempted strangulation in the first attack in the home.

Ms O'Halloran said that busts the notion that violence escalates over time and warned that they are being failed abysmally when it comes to the fundamental rights of a home and access to justice.

Safe Ireland said women are also being forced to stay in domestic violence refuges for longer because of spiralling rents, the lack of housing, rent allowance issues.

The Department of Environment reports count the people put up in emergency shelters, hostels, hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation.

They do not include the 150-200 rough sleepers across the country, the women and children in domestic violence shelters or refugees forced to remain in direct provision after being granted a visa.

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