'Conveyor belt care system' turfing out young people at 18
Young people who are in the care system and turn 18 are turfed out on to a "conveyor belt" to be housed, a conference heard yesterday.
Dillon Nolan (24), a May- nooth University student living in Clondalkin, told the annual Focus Ireland conference of his own experiences as a child in the care system.
He said that when he turned 18, he was expected to "grow up overnight" and immediately move into his own home.
Because of this, he said he was in danger of becoming homeless during that time.
"We had a YMCA locally and I planned to go there and sudd- enly it closed down and I was at risk of homelessness," he told the Herald.
"That's the decision I was faced with, where they say, 'We don't know where the end result is but you have to move out, you're 18, now you're an adult and you have to leave'.
"When I went through it, it felt like I was on this conveyor belt."
Mr Nolan had turned 18 in September and had just started sixth year at secondary school. He was due to move out on his own the following January.
"But it was January of the Leaving Cert, so I was just going to rental viewings because we didn't know where I was going to go while I was in school," he said.
He then had to scour lettings adverts for accommodation.
"I had to learn how to keep records, how to budget while also having to make room for maths homework, history homework," he said.
"Which is more important - school or getting a home? I don't think that's fair for any young person."
Mr Nolan was housed through Focus Ireland, but he acknowledged that not everyone is as lucky.
"I had an aftercare worker and amazing staff in my house who were brilliant and really, really tried," he said.
"But for me to have all of that support and to still be at risk of homelessness - some people don't have after care or a social worker. How will they cope?
"Would you put your child in that position just because they turned 18? It's not fair just because they turned adult."
The conference heard young people aged 16 to 24 are six times more likely to be discriminated against by landlords.
The number of homeless 18 to 24-year-olds has more than doubled since 2014, with 910 now homeless, a 110pc increase from 435 in August 2014.
Young people are also "at the brunt" of the homelessness crisis, and Focus Ireland has urged the Government to develop a youth homelessness strategy.
"Young adults are most likely to bunk with friends and extended family to keep a roof over their heads," said the charity's chief Pat Dennigan.
He said youth homelessness needs to be seen as a matter of "great urgency".