Irish people think the government has been spending too little on tackling homelessness, report shows

A new European report shows that Irish people agree with the majority of their EU peers that the government has been spending too little on tackling homelessness.

Irish respondents in the large scale survey were among the nations to cite addiction issues ahead of job loss and rent arrears as the main reason for homelessness.

The report, entitled 'Homelessness as unfairness: an ecological perspective', was produced by the HOME_EU: Reversing Homelessness in Europe organisation, which gathers data from around Europe. It included input from Irish experts gathered for a seminar in Italy last year.

Among the data to feature was a telephone survey using landlines and mobile phones in France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden, with around 700 respondents per country.

According to the report: "At least, 46% of the sample reported having been exposed to homelessness.

"Overall, 15% of the sample either reported having a personal experience of homelessness or having a relative or friend with such an experience, with Ireland and the Netherlands showing the most extreme rates (9.5% and 18.7%, respectively)."

It also found overall that three-quarters of respondents thought the magnitude of homelessness had increased and the three leading causes of homelessness reported by surveyed participants were job loss, addiction issues, and rent arrears.

Ireland was one of four countries to cite addiction issues and according to the study:

A clear majority of respondents (76%) reported that government spent too little on homelessness, with exposed respondents being more likely to encourage governmental funding

However, it also found that almost 17% of respondents reported that their government spent too much or enough money on homelessness.

The report also featured a service user’s study, presented by Ronni Greenwood of the University of Limerick), looking at how the participants in the Housing First Service Model report positive experiences and greater recovery when compared with the service users involved in the staircase model services, which uses hostels and transitional housing as steps towards independent living.

An overall sample of 573 service users from seven countries, including 83 in Ireland, "suggests that Housing First does work in different locations with different political, economic, and social contexts to end homelessness and promote recovery for adults with histories of homelessness and complex needs".

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy

It showed that residential stability levels were better in the Housing First model, as was housing quality and the level of consumer choice, while respondents also had higher levels of satisfaction with services and community integration, while there were lower levels of psychiatric symptoms among those using the Housing First model.

According to the report: "Based on these and other findings, we recommend European expansion of HF programmes with high fidelity to the original model through the implementation of new programmes and reconfiguration of staircase services to Housing First," adding that the European Commission should promote and support professionals’ training in delivering client-led, recovery-oriented supports and services.

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