Focus Ireland Conference Highlights Shocking 98% Rise In Youth Homelessness Since 2014
Sr. Stan Calls For More Co-ordinated State Action as new Coalition to End Youth Homelessness is launched at the event.
Focus Ireland is holding a major conference on Youth Homelessness in Limerick today (Friday) to help highlight a shocking 98% rise in the number of 18-24 year-olds homeless since 2014*. The charity’s founder & Life President Sr. Stan Kennedy opened the event at the Thomond Park Conference Centre and called for more action to help the record 826 young people who are now homeless. The leading housing and homelessness charity said that young people have paid a high price for the years of austerity and many have become marginalised and homeless as a result. Sr. Stan said this issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency if we are to avoid condemning many young people to lives of marginalisation and unfulfilled promise.
The conference featured a range of national and international speakers presenting on the issues, highlighting the problems, putting forward solutions. Speakers also presented on services and policies that are in place which are working well and need to be extended to help lift more young people out of homelessness. Sr. Stan said: “The terrible issues of both street homelessness and family homelessness, and the impact on children, are well documented with 8,160 people in this unacceptable situation. We must also highlight that those aged 18-24 years – Ireland’s youth homeless – require specific supports. Recent official figures from the Department of Housing for young people accessing state homeless services show that 826 young people (aged 18 to 24) are homeless in Ireland. However, the real total is much higher as this figure does not include young people who live in unstable and temporary arrangements such as staying on friend’s couches.”
Focus Ireland said there is some great work being carried out by a wide range of organisations to help prevent young people from becoming homeless and without this the crisis would be much worse. The charity said this work includes the innovative youth housing project involving collaboration between Focus Ireland, Tusla and Limerick City and County Council has been a huge success story.
Sr Stan explained:
“We are providing homes for vulnerable young people, along with vital support to help them sustain their tenancies as they make the transition into adulthood. This independently evaluated programme has changed the lives of vulnerable young people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness. Focus Ireland also provides youth housing in Waterford, Cork, Clare and North Tipperary and this approach needs to extend elsewhere to meet the growing needs around the country work. The Government’s commitment to Housing First in general is very welcome, and we hope they will show the same support to extending it to young people.”
As the recovery begins it is vital that specific policies address these issues. Tackling and preventing youth homelessness is not just about housing – it is also about access to training, education, mental health and employment.Housing and support can enable young people to move on to independent living. If they do not get this support when they are young, people can find themselves living on the edge of society and never reaching their potential. It can also sadly end in tragedy in some cases.
Meanwhile, at the event Focus Ireland also welcomed the establishment of a new Coalition to End Youth Homelessness which aims to ensure that the issue of youth homelessness gets the attention it needs. The Coalition was initiated by Focus Ireland and the National Youth Council of Ireland, and involves founding members from across the homeless and youth sectors. Without a clear social policy there will always be gross inequality and unequal distribution of resources. The coalition will work to ensure that the causes of youth homelessness are highlighted and addressed. One such issue is the impact of the reduced rate of social protection that has trapped too many young people in homelessness.
St Stan concluded:
“Young people have already paid a high price for the austerity years and many have become homeless and marginalised. Even if the state cannot provide housing immediately, they should at least provide suitable accommodation for them that gives young people respect, dignity and privacy and the support they need to become mature adults. The hostel accommodation being provided for young people at present is anything but appropriate and is certainly most unsuitable for young people.”
*The figure in June 2014 was 418, according to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Please click for statistics specific to youth homelessness.
Notes to Editors
For media queries please contact Focus Ireland Comms Officer, Alan Neary on 086 4680 442 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Please click for more information on the existing Focus Ireland Youth Housing Project in Limerick
*For more information on the Coalition to End Youth Homelessness, please go to www.endyouthhomelessness.ie
*The Coalition to End Youth Homelessness is initiated by Focus Ireland and the National Youth Council of Ireland and has received widespread support from the Youth and Homeless sectors, including NYCI (National Youth Council of Ireland), Simon Communities of Ireland, Crosscare, Threshold, SVP (The Society of St. Vincent de Paul), BeLonG To (The national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered – LGBT – young people, aged between 14 and 23) and USI (Union of Students in Ireland).