herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Almost half of homeless here are female, study shows

Almost half of Ireland’s homeless are women, figures show
Almost half of Ireland’s homeless are women, figures show

Homeless women will be "looking at the winter with fear and trepidation", according to the Simon Community, as new figures show 42pc of Irish homeless people are female.

Simon Community spokesperson Niamh Randall said many women have become homeless as a result of "childhood adversity".

She said "unless we break the cycle" this high percentage will continue for years to come.

"The key thing is the lack of support for when women are coming out of rental accommodation and into homelessness," said Ms Randall. "It's a vicious cycle of going through different services - whether that be homeless services, prison services or mental health services."

Ms Randall added that there was a huge "stigma and shame, as well as a sense of failure" upon these women.

Around 70pc of female participants in a survey conducted by Simon had children and this resulted in a "very difficult" situation for women, according to Ms Randall.

She said women are "very vulnerable" to sexual assault and violent attacks while homeless and that this figure highlighted the "trauma" experienced.

Dr Paula Mayock, of the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, helped compile the research and said the figures show a "hidden homelessness".

Horrible

The research also revealed a large number of "single" homeless women are mothers who have been separated from their children.

Dr Mayock told the Irish Independent that the figures "have risen dramatically" since initial figures of 33pc in the CSO in 2011.

"It is a horrible situation for anyone to be homeless but there is a stigma attached for women, which makes them feel a great shame," she said.

Dr Mayock said the rise in the number of families has contributed to the figure but "consistent poverty" in the country has impacted on people.

She added that 50pc of lone parents are unemployed and this puts them in a precarious situation.

Women constitute between 20pc and 33pc of homeless populations in most European countries.

In Ireland it is close to 50pc in the Dublin area, which Dr Mayock said was a "feminisation of homelessness".

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