Thursday 24 August 2017

Majority of homeless families have single parents and number of women sleeping rough above European average - new report

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Kathy Armstrong

Almost 70 per cent of homeless families are headed by single parents and the majority of these are young mothers, a new report has found.

It was also determined found that frequently these mothers have been the victims of domestic violence and have had to make the decision between staying in an abusive environment or becoming homelessness.

The study Women's Homelessness in Europe was conducted by Trinity academic Dr Paula Mayock last year, who is highlighting that nationally 42pc of homeless  people are women - far above the European average of 20-33pc.

66pc of homeless families are headed by single parents, generally women who are aged in their 20s or 30s with one or two children.

The majority of these women are homeless because they've lost their rented accommodation, many are also forced to leave houses where they have experienced violence at the hands of their partner.

Dr Mayock noted that the number of homeless women may be significantly underestimated as they are not counted officially if they are staying temporarily with friends or family.

Stock picture
Stock picture

A large number of women without a home are counted as single because they are separated from their children when they first try to access emergency accommodation, this means that they aren't classified as families and could miss out on more stable housing.

Read More: Childcare support to homeless is extended

Not having somewhere to live has a severe impact on the physical and mental health of women.

They report high levels of circulatory, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, as well as depression and anxiety and these conditions tend to get worse the longer that they don't have somewhere to live.

Dr Mayock says that homeless policy here is traditionally orientated towards men so the needs of women aren't being met.

She says that our strategy is based on traditional male breadwinners and this is putting single mothers at a disadvantage.

The study also said that Homeless Family Hubs are also not a suitable or acceptable solution.

Read More: Only a 'whole of Government' approach can manage housing

Dr Mayock explained: “In Ireland, policy responses to homelessness lack gender sensitivity and models of service provision are primarily oriented towards the needs of homeless men.

“Existing homelessness services remain stubbornly focused on responding only to the most urgent and basic needs of women through the provision of short- or medium term accommodation rather than on the provision of permanent housing.

“Large numbers of women therefore become ‘trapped’ in systems of emergency response that are poorly equipped to address their housing and other support needs.”

For more information please visit www.womenshomelessness.org.

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