Children in emergency accommodation stigmatised as new school year begins - charities

Almost 4,000 children in homeless accommodation are being stigmatised and denied equal chances in life, charities are warning.

Children in emergency accommodation stigmatised as new school year begins - charities

Almost 4,000 children in homeless accommodation are being stigmatised and denied equal chances in life, charities are warning.

As pupils return to school this week, the latest figures for July reveal that there were 10,275 people in emergency accommodation, including 3,778 children.

The Simon Communities and DePaul and Barnardos have expressed frustration at the numbers of people still living in hotels, B&Bs and emergency hubs which rose by 103 compared to June.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the increase is "very disappointing" but said 10,000 social houses will be provided this year:

"We are going have to continue to invest a lot of time and resources every month, to not just getting people out of emergency accommodation, which is very, very important, but preventing people from having to enter in the first place."

He suggested that families in homeless accommodation could be moved out of Dublin to areas where there is housing stock, but he said no one will be forced to relocate against their will.

The latest figures from the Department of Housing show an overall increase of 4% since July 2018, when the number of people in emergency accommodation was 9,891. However, the number of families in hotels and B&Bs is down by 3% year on year.

There was a significant increase in homeless adults in Cork which stood at 422 last month, this was up 29% year on year. July also saw the highest number of families in emergency accommodation in the Southwest (Cork and Kerry) with 143 families, this was up 6% compared to June and up 51% in the past 12 months.

Wayne Stanley of Simon Communities said the Dáil must address social and affordable housing supply to ensure move-on options when it returns. He pointed to the fact that the figures do not include peoplesleeping rough or surviving in squats; women and children in refuges;people in direct provision; and those who are ‘hidden homeless’ -people staying with family or friends as they have nowhere else to go.

Depaul CEO; David Carroll; said in recent months it appeared as though the tide was turning on homelessness but he said the July figures area "clear indication" that there is still a long way to go to make any significant impact on the numbers presenting as homeless.

“As we speak there are 3,778 children homeless, some of which are travelling from hotels and B&Bs to start a new school term.

The previous Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, pledged there would be an end to homeless families residing in hotels and B&Bs by July 2017 however, the fact is there still remains families and children living in this situation.

“Starting a new school term is daunting enough for children without the added stresses and stigma that comes with being homeless.

"We need to offer children every chance to excel within their education and residing in hotels and B&Bs can, and will, severely hinder their prospects within education and further into their lives," Mr Carroll said.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin described the figures as "deeply depressing" and said the increase in homeless children shows that the Government is failing to tackle the ongoing crisis.

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