Wednesday 18 September 2019

'Families who work at risk of homelessness'

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Conor McCrave

Conor McCrave

Working families are just a short step from homelessness due to fast-rising rents and precarious employment.

The Society of St Vincent De Paul (SVP) said that even families where both parents were working can find themselves vulnerable.

It provides support to hundreds of thousands of people every year, but says that some 100,000 people are below the poverty line despite working.

SVP President Kieran Stafford said: "Supply is obviously the main problem but we've seen those who are renting facing a real struggle to hold on to their rentals.

"We're seeing a rise in this area from people who are visiting us and we're certainly seeing it in people that are coming to us even though they are in employment."

Seasonal and zero-hour contracts are a regular issue for families who express concern for losing their homes.

"These are the people that are paying everything and entitled to nothing. Meanwhile, the cost of everything is going up," he said.

"There is a mixture of people in this who are employed but are working these precarious hours so their hours change from week to week or they could have no hours.

"I certainly hear from people working full-time and one or both of them became sick. And as their situation changes, they face a crisis.

"Quite often, people find themselves homeless even though they are paying the rent because the landlord wants to sell or to pass it on to their family.

"And most of these working poor are on these precarious hours," he added.

Although low-income families are worst hit by a rising cost of living and unsteady income, middle-income families are also facing huge strains despite "playing by the rules". "It's fair to say middle-income families are also struggling but not coming to us because they are coping by hook or by crook."

Homeless figures released by the Department of Housing this week show an increase of 130 people living in emergency accommodation in Ireland, bringing the total number to 9,724.

Some 3,725 of those in homeless accommodation were children, and there were more than 1,700 families.

"I heard the Taoiseach say recently that €100,000 a year wouldn't get you much nowadays but we are dealing with people on €16,000 and €17,000 a year," added Mr Stafford.

"These are people who are feeding their kids but not feeding themselves. They have to make choices or maybe borrow money from a friend or relation to get by.

"We say to people all the time, 'Don't blame yourself for this, it's not uncommon'. The way society has gone has contributed to the difficulties they face." is pleased to support St Vincent De Paul's annual Christmas Appeal.

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Irish Independent

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