Census reveals 765 children aged under four are homeless

More than a quarter of all 6,906 homeless people recorded on night of Census 2016 were children.

Children under the age of four make up the single largest age group experiencing homelessness.

Census 2016 has shown more than a quarter of all 6,906 homeless people recorded on census night were children.

The data, released yesterday by the Central Statistics Office, revealed 1,846 people recorded as homeless on Census night in April 2016 were aged 17 or younger, with 1,594 being children in family units.

Among those, 765 were aged four or younger — the largest single age group of all recorded by the CSO.

At the other end of the age scale, 413 homeless people were aged 60 or older and, among those, 114 were over the age of 70.

Figures further show the Census recorded 15 people over the age of 85 as homeless.

Census reveals 765 children aged under four are homeless

Overall, there were 6,906 homeless persons counted in Census 2016 with an average age of 31 compared to the average general population age of 37.

There were 896 families among the homeless population, representing 2,968 persons, and accounting for 43% of all homeless.

They included 262 couples with children and 567 one-parent families, and 96% of all one-parent families had female parents.

There were 67 couples without children, 326 families with one child, 261 families with two children, 131 families with three children, and 111 families had four or more children.

Of the 5,212 homeless persons aged 15 and over, just over half (56%) were in the labour force, of whom 899 (31%) were employed.

Another 2,016 (69%) were either unemployed or looking for the first job and 12% (607) were unable to work due to permanent sickness or disability — compared with 4.2% of the general population.

Students accounted for 429 homeless (8%), while a further 188 people said they were retired.

In terms of marital status, 55% of homeless people aged 15 and above were single, compared with 41% of the general population.

Nearly half (48%) of the general population were married/remarried, but only 9% of those who were homeless were.

Meanwhile, the rate of separation/divorce among homeless people was just above twice that of the general population — just over 12% compared to 6%.

Homeless charity Focus Ireland said the number of children under the age of four experiencing homelessness is ‘shocking’ and said the Census data shows that homeless people are much like the general population.

“This census data also demolishes many of the myths that people have about ‘the homeless’,” Focus Ireland director of advocacy Mike Allen said.

“It shows that people who are homeless look very much like everyone else in the population.

“This demonstrates the extent to which homelessness is linked to the wider housing crisis that impacts on all sections of society.

“The report also show the damaging circumstances that people who are homeless are forced to endure with 62% saying their health was good compared to 87% of the total population,” Mr Allen said.

The census recorded 123 people sleeping rough on the night, 102 of which were in Dublin. Men accounted for 85% of those sleeping rough.

The Simon Communities said the fact more than half of homeless people are in the labour force points to a problem with the price of accommodation.

“This suggests that there are thousands of workers who cannot afford to buy or rent a home of their own,” Niamh Randall, spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said.

“The long term solution to ending the crisis is to build more social housing, more affordable housing.

“In the meantime, we must ensure that the private rental market is accessible to people.

“Addressing the spiralling rents and dwindling supply in private rented sector must be a priority.

“These persistent issues are preventing people from finding and sustaining affordable homes within the rental market.”

Ms Randall added: “Keeping people in the homes that they already have is key to stopping the flow of people into homelessness.”

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