Saturday 17 March 2018

One in four homeless people aged under 18

Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan
Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

One in seven homeless adults is in employment but unable to afford a home to call their own.

And the latest census results show that homeless people are younger than the general population, are less likely to enjoy good health, are less educated and twice as likely to be divorced or separated.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) says that some 6,906 people were recorded as homeless on census night last year, April 24. One in four are under 18 years of age.

The figures are not directly comparable with the 2011 Census results, when 3,744 people were classed as homeless. This is because those in long-term accommodation were excluded while those in emergency homes, including hotels and guesthouses, are counted.

But it highlights the impact the recession and lack of new home delivery has had on wider society, where hundreds are unable to provide a home for themselves and their families due to soaring rents and a lack of houses and apartments.

Comment: State's inaction dooms thousands to a transient lifestyle

The results show the average age of the homeless population was 31, compared with 37 for the general population. Women were 26.8 years of age, compared with 33.2 years for men.

Of the 6,906 homeless people counted, some 1,846 were children aged up to 17 years. Some 413 were 60 years or older.

But it also shows many of this cohort are working. Of the 5,212 people aged 15 or over, 56pc, or 2,915, were in the labour force, or available for work.

Of these, 899 or 31pc were employed, but unable to pay for a home. Some 429 were students, and a further 2,016 (69pc) were unemployed or looking for a first job. Some 607 were unable to work due to sickness or disability.

The CSO said just 62pc of those living on the streets or in emergency accommodation considered their health to be very good or good, compared with 87pc of the general population. Almost 20pc said their health was fair, bad or very bad, almost double the 9.6pc of the general population.

Non-nationals account for 14pc of the homeless population, with UK and Polish nationals topping the list. Most homeless people are based in Dublin, 5,009 of the total, or just over 70pc.

Read More: 'My four kids are homeless now because I lost my job'

Some 123 people were recorded as sleeping rough, with 104 men and 19 women.

On marital status, the CSO reports 55pc of those aged 15 or over are single, compared with 41pc of the general population. More than 12pc were divorced or separated, compared with 5.9pc in the general population.

It also shows that 896 families are homeless, representing 2,968 people - almost half the total. There were 67 couples with no children, 326 with one child, 261 with two children and 131 with three. Some 111 had four or more children.

Labour housing spokesperson Jan O'Sullivan said the figures highlighted the need for a national affordable housing scheme.

"While these figures will come as no great surprise given the extent of the housing and homelessness crisis, I am particularly concerned that families and children accounted for nearly half of the total homeless population," she said.

"Data published since the census date last year show that these figures have risen considerably.

Read More: 'My dying wish is to stand up for others'

"It is clear that the issue of affordability in the housing and rental market needs to be urgently addressed."

The 'Homeless Persons in Ireland' report also shows that 2,891 people were accommodated in hotels and guesthouses on census night, and 306 in domestic violence refuges. Another 778 were in hostels, and 2,737 in supported temporary accommodation.

The Simon Community said the findings suggested an 81pc increase in the number of homeless since 2011, and while unsurprising it was "deeply concerning".

"It is hugely concerning to see the increase in young people who are becoming homeless," it said.

"We know that people who have experience of homelessness in their youth are more likely to become homeless again as adults." It said it highlighted that thousands of workers could not afford to buy or rent a home, and that more social housing was needed.

Irish Independent

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