Charities: Tackle ‘hidden’ homelessness

“Hidden” homelessness is hampering the development of thousands of children across the country, a group of charities has warned.

The problem affects families who are temporarily accommodated, usually with friends or family, but whose living situation is precarious and unsustainable. 

Furthermore, the charities said these families are not recorded as homeless in official figures, and in many cases are not eligible for many support services.

Four charities, Barnardos, Focus Ireland, Simon Communities in Ireland, and Society of St Vincent de Paul, yesterday held a joint press conference, and called for a number of measures to tackle the issue.

Fergus Finlay of Barnardos said children are missing developmental milestones and falling behind in school.

“Right now, thousands of children and families are experiencing hidden homelessness — living in overcrowded, unsuitable, and insecure accommodation because they have nowhere else to go,” he said.

“This experience profoundly affects a child’s social, emotional, and physical development. At a basic level, there is no space to play or do homework; children often have to share beds with siblings or parents so there is a lack of privacy or personal space.”

  

While there are no figures available for those affected by hidden homelessness, a report published by Barnardos yesterday cited data from the Housing Agency which shows there were 85,799 people on the social housing waiting list last year, 30% of whom said they sought accommodation due to their existing overcrowded or unsuitable living conditions.

Recommendations put forward by the charities include the fast-tracking of an enhanced prevention system to allow those experiencing hidden homelessness to access supports without first having to become officially homeless, and the provision of tailored information and advice for hidden homeless families on subjects such as accessing supports and securing a home.


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