Reported Decrease in Number of Children Homeless is Reflective of Seasonal Trend
Barnardos cautions the reported decrease in number of children (3,079) registered as homeless in December may be a seasonal trend and cannot be relied upon as a true indicator of the rate of child homelessness in Ireland. More trend data is needed.
Barnardos Head of Advocacy, June Tinsley, said: “Of course we welcome any decrease in the number of children and families registered as homeless, and hopefully it represents a turn in the tide, but truthfully it is more likely this is a seasonal trend as parents try everything to prevent spending Christmas in emergency accommodation. In fact, many of these families have likely joined the growing number of ‘hidden homeless’, those without their own home forced to live with friends or extended family in often over-crowded and inappropriate accommodation.
“The figures released this time last year also saw a decrease in the number of children living in emergency accommodation, but unfortunately by February the numbers returned to their pre-Christmas levels and then continued to rise again. The fact remains that even with this dip, 2017 saw a 28% increase in the number of children living in emergency accommodation.
“It should also be noted, as reported this week, that 76% of households which were supported out of homelessness in 2017 were transitioned into tenancies in the private rental sector. The continued over-reliance on the private rental sector to support social housing needs is only kicking the can down the road as these families will continue to face the uncertainty and volatility of the rental sector.
“The Government must commit to building social housing to provide a long-term solution for not only the 1,408 families living in emergency accommodation but also the many more families experiencing ‘hidden homelessness’. Without long-term solutions, we will fail to see any genuine reduction of child homelessness. Barnardos also continues its call on the Government to guarantee that no child spends more than six months in emergency accommodation – ensuring an appropriate and long-term solution at the end of this period.”