Focus Ireland has said the next Government must develop a National Youth Homelessness Strategy as a matter of urgency as the number of 18-24 year-olds homeless has shockingly more than doubled in the last five years.
The call was made at the charity’s “Ending Youth Homelessness” conference in the RDS today (Thur Oct 24th) as delegates heard the number of people aged 18-24 in Ireland has shot up by a shocking 109% since 2014*. (*From 435 in Aug 2014 to 910 young people in August this year.)
The conference also heard that young people aged 18-24 years old are bearing the brunt of the housing and homelessness crisis, and are six times more likely to experience discrimination by private landlords.
The first speaker was Dillon Nolan who is a Social Work Masters Student (Maynooth University) with lived experience of residential care and housing insecurity. He was previously supported by Focus Ireland and went on to secure his own home. Dillion backed Focus Ireland’s call for action as he said:
“It is clear that Ireland needs a strategy to help end the terrible crisis of youth homelessness. A key part of this is prevention. I was living in residential State Care and when I turned 18 I had to leave. I came into being at risk of homelessness and insecure housing because it was suddenly deemed, overnight, that I was an adult now and able to support myself independently. I was now an adult that had to learn about renting, learn how to live on my own and to actually put a roof over my head.”
“I was lucky as I got a place in Focus Ireland accommodation at 18 years old while still in 6th year of school a few months before I was due to sit the Leaving Certificate but it was still very tough and worrying even with the great support. I’m just wondering, would we force our own children out of our home, while still in school, to fend for themselves during the housing crisis, all just because they had turned 18? So why do we do this to young people in state care and expect them to just get through it? This has to end. We need to be angry about this. We need to be angry that the number of 18-24 year olds who are homeless has more than doubled in only 5 years. When you are in living in Care the State is your Corporate Parent. What parent would abandon their child when they turn 18? No child should have to move straight from their home to adult homeless services just because they turned 18 years of age yet this still happens in many cases today. Not everyone is getting the support & housing that they need.”
Focus Ireland has a long track record of working towards ending youth homelessness through the development of services, research and campaigning strongly on the issue. The issue is now even more firmly on the agenda with the formation of the Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness in 2017 and Focus Ireland’s campaign to #EndYouthHomelessness. This campaign has received a massive response since Focus Ireland launched it at Body & Soul festival in June as over 10,700 people signed the campaign petition. The petition was handed into representatives of all political parties at the Dáil at the start of October and is calling for a national youth homeless strategy to be included as a key part of every political party’s manifesto before the next General Election.
The Focus Ireland conference heard from a number of national & international speakers who delved deep into our understanding of youth homelessness and what solutions are on offer. This included conference keynote Speaker Dr. Paula Mayock, School of Social Work & Social Policy, Trinity College and also Kate Polson CEO, Rock Trust who outlined how their organisation’s Housing First work is helping to tackle youth homelessness in Scotland.
Also speaking at the conference Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said:
“Young people are at risk of being forgotten as they have been left behind throughout the housing crisis. Young adults are most likely to bunk-in with friends and extended family to keep a roof over their heads. People in these situations are part of the ‘hidden homeless’ and are not included in the Government’s official homelessness figures. This needs to be addressed as a matter of great urgency. Focus Ireland is working through our services – in partnership with the State – to help to prevent and end homelessness for many young people but the fact is there is a lot more that needs to be done and we really need to have a Youth Homeless Strategy in place.”
“As part of our campaign Focus Ireland has met with representatives from a number of political parties to discuss the issue and I’m encouraged with their response. As well as the Government, we are asking all opposition political groups to include a Youth Homeless Strategy in their pre-election manifestos.”
Focus Ireland said that a Youth Homeless Strategy must include actions to ensure the following:
For more information on the #EndYouthHomelessness campaign visit: www.focusireland.ie
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