herald

Saturday 19 October 2019

Number of homeless children rises by 70 as minister urged to act

Labour Party housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan
Labour Party housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan

The number of homeless children has increased by 70 in a month, while there are more than 10,000 people living in emergency accommodation.

Government figures show that there are currently 6,490 adults and 3,848 children homeless in Ireland.

The number of children living in emergency accommodation has risen by 70, figures for August show, while the overall number remains above 10,000 for the seventh consecutive month.

Adult men outnumber the amount of homeless women by more than 1,000.

Dublin remains the worst-hit area of the country, with 1,280 homeless families - including 2,850 children - in some form of emergency accommodation.

Of these, 729 are single-parent families.

Fr Peter McVerry, a homelessness campaigner and advocate, has said he believes the number without homes is closer to 15,000.

The level of homelessness has been deemed the worst in the history of the State by the Government and campaigners, who say rising and unaffordable rents, as well as a lack of social housing, are the main contributors to the issue.

Reacting to the homelessness figures, TD and Labour Party housing spokesperson Jan O'Sullivan said: "[The] figures show that an extra 70 children became homeless in August, bringing the total number of homeless children in Ireland to 3,848.

"This is truly a heartbreaking and unacceptable situation.

"Emergency accommodation is no place for a child, and there's an increased amount of research showing the damage it can do to children in the long-term.

Traumatic

"I would call again on [Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy] to move forward the Labour Party's Homeless Families Bill, which legally obliges housing authorities to act in the best interest of the child when their family becomes homeless."

Pat Dennigan, of homelessness charity Focus Ireland, said: "We have to remember that the experience of losing your home and becoming homeless is in itself deeply traumatic for anyone - most of all children.

"While other children were enjoying our glorious summer, 466 children faced the anxiety and fear of losing their homes, while many others continued to live out their lives in hubs, hotel rooms and other unsuitable facilities.

"With Budget 2020 just a week away, the Government needs to use this opportunity to be more ambitious in relation to the number of houses that are being built."

Sinn Fein housing spokesman Eoin O Broin has called on the Government to build more social housing.

"We need to stop these families becoming homeless and with the Budget coming up, Minister Murphy, and his counterpart in Fianna Fail, has the opportunity to demand more resources to build more public houses," he said.

"We are calling on both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to drop their opposition to the Focus Ireland amendment, as this is the best way to keep families from becoming homeless, as it restricts the landlord's ability to seek vacant possession notices to quit."

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