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Monday 14 October 2019

Young homeless parents 'need specific supports'

A woman walks by a mural in Dublin city centre. Picture: PA
A woman walks by a mural in Dublin city centre. Picture: PA

Fiona Dillon and Cormac McQuinn

Overcrowded homes with several generations under one roof can force young families into homelessness.

Strained family dynamics can be the "tipping point", Focus Ireland said as it launched a new study on problems of young homeless families aged between 18 and 24.

The 'Young Families in the Homeless Crisis: Challenges and Solutions' report said: "The challenging nature of an overcrowded, multi-generational home could make for a chaotic family dynamic, wherein children required continual childcare and where parents and grandparents were deprived of privacy".

A total of 18 families in Dublin and Cork gave detailed interviews for the report.

Among its key recommendations was the establishment of a "family mediation and support service" to prevent such families becoming homeless.

The report called for the provision of sufficient key workers for all families to support them during homelessness.

The report, which was led by University College Cork (UCC) researcher Dr Sharon Lambert, urged that there should be a comprehensive strategy to tackle family homelessness.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has claimed that the true number of people experiencing homelessness is almost 13,000.

Its housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin accused the Government of underestimating the number of adults and children in emergency accommodation. He said: "If you don't count the problem properly, then how can you put enough resources into tackling it?"

Official Department of Housing figures have hovered just under 10,000 in recent months. But Sinn Féin's analysis puts the homeless number at 12,805.

Their figures include victims of domestic violence in transitional accommodation, successful asylum seekers who are still living in direct provision centres, rough sleepers, and people living in hostels without Government funding.

They also include around 1,600 people who were recategorised and taken out of the Department's figures.

A spokesman for housing minister Eoghan Murphy responded to Sinn Féin's figures. He said the Housing Department numbers relate to people in emergency accommodation "funded and overseen by local authorities only".

He added: "Earlier in the year it was discovered that a number of local authorities had incorrectly categorised some individuals as being in emergency accommodation when they were not."

He said direct provision centres and domestic violence refuges fall under the remit of different State agencies.

Separately, Threshold has called for Limerick and Waterford to become designated rent pressure zones.

Irish Independent

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