The housing and homeless charity said that the most shocking single finding in this report is that children aged between the ages of 0-4 are now the largest single age group experiencing homelessness. In 2011, the largest single group were aged between 30-34. This highlights the extraordinary increase in family homelessness over the 5 years – with 896 families recorded as homeless – accounting for 43% of all people who are homeless. (The headline figure 5 years ago was 296 families, but the comparable figure would be much lower as the 2011 data included formerly homeless households in long-term supported housing, which have been excluded, with widespread agreement, in 2016).
Focus Ireland pointed out that because of the complexity of the definition of ‘homelessness’, the Census report does not provide comparable data on the actual numbers who are homeless, but it does provide invaluable insights into the circumstances of people who are homeless. This should be used to better understand what is happening, why it is happening to those particular people and how it can be stopped.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said:
“This census data also demolishes many of the myths that people have about ‘the homeless’, It show that people who are homeless look very much like everyone else in the population. This demonstrates the extent to which homelessness is linked to the wider housing crisis that impacts on all sections of society.”
The census figures show that people who are homeless tend to be younger than the overall population (Average 31 year of age, against 37 for the general population), they are quite likely to be at work (almost 900 were in employment – 31% of those in the labour force); and they are of similar in nationality to the general population (14% non-Irish nationals compared to 11.6% in the general population, with the largest non-Irish group being UK nationals. Experience would suggest that many of these people have strong Irish connections).
Mr Allen added:
“The report also show the damaging circumstances that people who are homeless are forced to endure with 62% saying their health was good compared to 87% of the total population.”
Focus Ireland also drew attention to the growth in the numbers of Travellers who are homeless with the numbers rising from 163 to 517 over the five years.
Focus Ireland paid tribute to the CSO for their hard work and persistence in developing this very challenging module of the Census. The work of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive Research team was also crucial in ensuring that the families that were homeless and living in hotels were covered by the Census.
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