herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

90pc of homeless women have been assaulted - study

Niamh Randall
Niamh Randall

Homeless women endure increased levels of distress due to pregnancy, trying to care for children, and violence, research revealed.

New research among Ireland's homeless women revealed that nine out of 10 experienced high levels of violence or abuse.

The Simon Communities in Ireland said almost half of those homeless women in a study (46pc) had experienced sexual abuse as children.

And almost a third first experienced homelessness in childhood.

The findings were disclosed at a Simon conference in Dublin on women and homelessness yesterday.

Two out of every three of the homeless women had experienced violence from an intimate partner and one in five suffered violence from more than one partner.

The women also spoke about experiencing motherhood as difficult and distressing due to their homelessness.

Niamh Randall, spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland, said one in three homeless people is female.

In the case of women, there is a gender specific dimension to their experiences with high levels of childhood trauma, violence and sexual violence, she said.

There is an overlap between women's homelessness and other support needs, such as pregnancy, mental health issues, domestic violence, drug use and trauma, she said.

"We urgently need housing but it is not just about housing, people must be able to access support services," Ms Randall said.

"Many of the women in this study ended up back in homeless services due to the breakdown of their tenancies post homelessness, where often they didn't get the level of support they needed to sustain their tenancies.

"We need to look at developing targeted services for women who are homeless -for example, pregnancy, child and mother units, services for younger women and women -only services but also ensure that existing services are more accessible and responsive to their needs.

failing

"The current housing shortage is impeding progress on a housing-led approach and, if it continues, it will result in the Government failing to achieve their target to end long term homelessness and rough sleeping by 2016," Ms Randall added.

"We urgently need investment in social housing and better use must be made of existing housing stock. It is critical that the barriers preventing people from accessing private rented housing are addressed immediately, namely increasing rent caps and introducing rent control measures," she said.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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