Women constitute 42% of homeless

Women constitute 42% of the total adult homeless population in the State and 47% in the Dublin region. Both figures are well above the European norm of between 20% and 33%.

The findings are from Women’s Homelessness in Europe, co-edited by Paula Mayock from Trinity College Dublin and Joanne Bretherton from the University of York.

Dr Mayock said policy responses to homelessness in Ireland lack gender sensitivity, with services primarily orientated towards the needs of homeless men.

Homelessness services only respond to the most urgent and basic needs of women through provision of short- or medium-term accommodation rather than permanent housing, she said.

“Large numbers of women, therefore, become trapped in systems of emergency response that are poorly equipped to address their housing and other support needs,” said Dr Mayock.

The report points out that women are less likely to be counted as homeless as they try to avoid contact with homeless services.

“There is a particular stigma attached to the notion of homeless or unaccommodated women,” it states.

Dr Mayock told RTÉ radio yesterday that figures published by the Department of Housing exclude women living in refuges.

In 2014, there were 1,658 women and more than 2,000 children in domestic refuges, but, unlike other European countries, the women are not recognised as homeless.

“The provision of affordable and appropriate housing solutions for women and their children who experience homelessness requires urgent attention,” said Dr Mayock.

However, homeless family hubs, which she described as congregate living facilities, were not an appropriate, acceptable, or sustainable solution to the problem of women’s homelessness.

There is a significant risk, she said, that women and their children would remain in these hubs that were very much detached from the notion of a home.

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