herald

Monday 15 October 2018

'Nobody knows what it will bring' - Brexit could add to homeless crisis

A homeless person on the streets of Dublin
A homeless person on the streets of Dublin

Brexit could result in a rise in the number of non-nationals seeking homeless accommodation in Ireland.

Dublin City Council has established a working group to prepare for a possible rise in non-nationals seeking emergency accommodation, if they are refused entry to the UK.

Assistant chief executive Brendan Kenny told the Herald that the council had to prepare to cater for an increased demand for services, as a new report shows that lone parents, larger families and non-Irish nationals are more susceptible to losing their homes.

Around one-third of homeless families in Dublin are non-nationals, the report from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) revealed.

But there are mounting concerns that a hard Brexit will close the UK to migrants seeking a better life, which could result in many choosing to relocate to Ireland.

While EU nationals are entitled to social supports including housing, non-EU nationals are not, Mr Kenny said.

However, they are entitled to shelter, and the city has to be prepared.

Worried

"We're conscious that nobody knows what Brexit will bring, but we're worried about a possible influx of foreign nationals coming to the county if they cannot go to the UK," he said.

"They are entitled to shelter. The DRHE will be responsible for that.

"Non-EU nationals are only entitled to one night, which means they could come back night after night. We might be getting a handle on homeless families, but this could present a challenge. We just need to be ready."

While the group is an internal city council forum, it was in discussions with the Department of Justice about possible implications, he added.

His comments come as the latest report into homelessness highlighted that almost one in five families has languished in emergency accommodation for more than 18 months.

From January 2016 to December 2017, a total of 1,878 families accessed emergency accommodation in the Dublin region for the first time. This comprised of 902 families in 2016 and 976 in 2017.

Its figures reveal that of the families who newly presented to homeless services over the two years, two-thirds were lone parents. Just over two-thirds were Irish, while around a third were non-Irish national families.

Around 12pc of the entire population are "non-Irish", the report adds, meaning they are over-represented in homeless statistics.

The report also says that those who exit emergency accommodation and move to private rented homes, which are supported by the State under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, tend to leave within six months.

Delay

The average age of children who newly presented to homeless services in the Dublin region with their families was just seven years old.

A third of children were aged under four.

Up to 14pc of families have four or more children.

The report highlights that parents delay declaring as homeless until the school term finishes, with a low number presenting in December, followed by a peak in January.

A second peak emerges during July and August, during school holidays.

The "Report on the 2016 and 2017 families who experienced homelessness in the Dublin region" tracked families who utilised homeless services in both years.

On December 31 last year, some 1,087 families were in emergency accommodation, of which 31pc had been there for 12 months or more.

Some 48pc of families were forced into homelessness after losing their private sector rental accommodation.

A similar number said it was down to family circumstances.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News