Thursday 26 April 2018

Homeless families in hotel rooms likened to days of city tenements

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Childrens rights Alliance speaks at the ChildrenÕs Rights Alliance launch Report, Are we there yet? to top UN Body
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Childrens rights Alliance speaks at the ChildrenÕs Rights Alliance launch Report, Are we there yet? to top UN Body

John Brennan

The plight of homeless children forced to live in hotels with their families has been likened to youngsters living in tenements 100 years ago.

A new report has found that the level of child poverty in Ireland has almost doubled in the past seven years, as the number of homeless children reached nearly 1,500.

The Children's Rights Alliance (CRA) launched its new study titled 'Are We There Yet?' which shows that child poverty has climbed from 6.3pc to 12pc since 2008.

The report highlights that there were more than 700 families and nearly 1,500 children in emergency accommodation as of August this year.

It also finds almost a quarter of lone parent households "are living in consistent poverty".

The launch of the report carried a number of "very stark findings".

Outraged

There are currently 1,500 children who are homeless and using emergency accommodation, it said.

Those at the launch yesterday heard that "one of the things that outraged people about this city 100 years ago was that we had families living in one room - we again have families living in one room".

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of CRA, explained the depth of the crisis.

"If you talk to the housing authorities, they will tell you it will take up to two years to rehouse the children that are in emergency accommodation at the moment."

The launch of the report at the Mansion House in Dublin comes in the run-up to Ireland's third and fourth combined report under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which is due to take place in January.

Maria Corbett, Legal and Policy director at CRA, spoke about the housing crisis.

"The figure that is so shocking is the 1,500 children living in emergency accommodation.

"That means they're living in a room with their parents and siblings - there is nowhere to play, nowhere to do homework ... there's nowhere to cook," she added,

Ms Corbett went onto say that some families have been living in these sorts of accommodation for "up to a year".

Childhood obesity is also tackled in the extensive study.

"Ireland has fewer hours of compulsory physical education classes than other EU Member State," the report finds.

It also highlights the "steady decline" of children walking or cycling to school as another worry.

This is important given the results of a 2011 survey which found a quarter of girls and a fifth of boys aged between five and 12 were overweight or obese.

A 2013 survey was also highlighted, which showed that 39pc of people aged over 15 years had engaged in "binge drinking" in the previous 30 days.

There has been a substantial drop in births to teenage mothers - the number in 2014 was half that of 2004.

It will be the third time in nearly 20 years that Ireland has been examined by the UN Committee in relation to children's rights. The last time Ireland was examined was in 2006 - and it was the recommendations made then which ultimately led to the Children's referendum of 2012.

The report says that there has been much progress since Ireland's children's rights were last reviewed, but adds that the country "has a long way to go".

Unsustainable

The report recommends that the State "enacts legislation to prohibit the placement of families with children in inappropriate emergency accommodation".

It states that long-term living in emergency accommodation is "costly, unsustainable and not conducive to childhood development".

The report highlights a number of challenges which need to be tackled to deal with this problem, including the cost of healthcare, housing, education and childcare.

The Children's Rights Alliance appealed for "public understanding" to help tackle the various issues highlighted.

The study found that there remains an "unacceptably high" level of poverty in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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