Our “Looking beyond the Homeless Crisis Lecture Series” was launched on Monday 23rd April 2018 and featured the eminent homelessness researcher Prof. Dennis Culhane (University of Pennsylvania) who presented his paper “Adult Homelessness: Risk Period or Cohort Effect? Implications for Policy and Practice.” Through the examination of large-scale quantitative evidence, this paper demonstrated how many people who become homeless during a housing and homelessness crisis can ‘become stuck’ in homelessness for some time. Anticipatory planning is needed to ensure that appropriate and targeted interventions can address these issues effectively and in a timely manner.
John Murphy from the Homelessness Inter-Agency Group (HIAG) (which was set up under Rebuilding Ireland) provided a response to the presentation by situating the research findings in the Irish context. A key question was addressing the high risk of prolonged homelessness among some individuals, long after a periodic ‘homeless crisis’ has ended. Some key questions included:
Dr Helen Johnston from the National Economic and Social Council chaired the event which included an open discussion from the floor.
About “Looking beyond the Homeless Crisis Lecture Series”: Today, homelessness appears to be on an inexorable rise and every voluntary organisation, state agency, volunteer and policy maker is entirely consumed in responding to some new element of the crisis. But there will come a time when the measures put in place to deliver new affordable housing will begin to match the demand, and the numbers entering homelessness will fall and we will have ‘turned the corner’.
Unless we start thinking about what is around that corner, Ireland will be unprepared for the new opportunities and challenges in homelessness that await. How will the structures and policies we have put in place to handle the homeless crisis serve us when an opportunity arises to cut homelessness funding? How easy will it be to dismantle the infrastructure of emergency accommodation that have been necessary to build? How will we avoid turning ‘first responses’ into long-term arrangements?
Focus Ireland and Trinity College School of Social Work and Social Policy is beginning a series of events and publications over the next two years which will start to open up a debate on these issues and start laying the foundations we need to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
Focus Ireland and School of Social Work and Social Policy (Trinity College Dublin) host monthly lunchtime talks on emerging homelessness research in Ireland and internationally. There is also time allocated to discussion after presentations as a way of exploring possible policy implications.
*On occasion, a lunchtime talk or event may be hosted in a different venue and will be listed as such.
The prevalence of major mental illness, substance misuse and homelessness in Irish prisoners: systematic review and meta-analyses.
This research highlights that the Irish prison population are at increased risk of various morbidities, namely major mental illness, substance misuse and homelessness. In this light, the authors highlight that there is a need for service development nationally, in particular the development of diversion services and the consideration of integrated treatment plans addressing the psychiatric and psychosocial need.
Speaker: Dr. Noreen Keating, Senior Registrar in General Adult Psychiatry, with a special interest in Forensic Psychiatry, currently based in Nenagh Community Mental Health Team.
Location: George’s Hill Chapel, Stanhope Green, Halston Street, Dublin 7.
Speakers will be announced in due course.
Peer research has emerged as a popular method of participatory social research. Broadly speaking, it is research that is guided and conducted by people with lived experience of the issue being studied, produced in collaboration with academic researchers. Focus Ireland employs a team of three peer researchers with lived experience of homelessness to assist in the tracking and monitoring of tenancy sustainment of customers after they disengage from services. This presentation, co-produced between Focus Ireland Research Officers and the peer researchers themselves, reflected on the process of becoming peer researchers and the challenges and opportunities that arise over this time.
Bernie O’Donoghue Hynes, Head of Research in the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, presented the 2017 year end data for the Dublin Region relating to the full range of services provided for singles and families experiencing homelessness. This included a review of homeless prevention services, numbers accessing and leaving emergency accommodation, families’ progression through services and the total number of tenancies secured over the year.
Dr Peter Barrett (UCC) presented on his medical research paper relating to the incidence of self-harm among the homeless population in Ireland and to assess factors associated with self-harm, concluding that there is a disproportionate burden of self-harm among the homeless and that targeted preventive actions are warranted.
Daragh McCarthy, Researcher at the Housing Agency, provided details on the headline results from the SSHA, including a demographic profile of households on the waiting list, a breakdown of the current tenure of those qualified for support and how homeless households are recorded on the list. The legislative underpinning the count and the longer-term development of SSHA was also considered.
This half-day seminar and discussion on images and public attitudes of homelessness explored the implications these constructions have in shaping policy and service responses to homelessness in Ireland. Presentations on the day came from:
The second half of the seminar involved an engaging discussion on issues such as coverage of homelessness in the media and the absence of women from discussions of homelessness from a panel including Cormac Fitzgerald (TheJournal.ie), Dr Paula Mayock (Trinity College Dublin) and Mike Allen (Focus Ireland).
Nicholas Pleace (Director of Centre for Housing, University of York & European Observatory of Homelessness) presented findings from a recent comparative report of family homelessness across European countries. You can download the Family Homelessness in Europe report here.
On 6th December, Focus Ireland published two reports on Family Homelessness:
These reports extend our knowledge on family homelessness but also contributed to Focus Ireland’s Organisational Strategic Plan 2017-2020 which seeks to prioritise both prevention and housing in tackling the problem of homelessness. Both reports can be downloaded in full here.
Dr Evelyn Dyb (Norwegian Institute for Urban & Regional Research, Oslo), Prof Eoin O’Sullivan (TCD) and Aidan Culhane (former advisor to Jan O’Sullivan) engaged in a roundtable discussion on Housing Led Policy in Ireland. This followed from a Focus Ireland evening event in the RIA in which Dr Dyb presented on how housing led policy has led to the substantial reduction of homeless figures in Norway since 2012 (presentation can be found here). This was compared to the significant increase in numbers in the Irish context over the same time period, as presented by Prof. O’Sullivan (click here for presentation).
Dr Mary Murphy and Dr Rory Hearne (University of Maynooth) presented findings from their recent research report entitled “Investing in the Right to a Home, Houses, HAP and Hubs.” Their report, which can be found here, focuses on the structural crisis of family homelessness in Ireland using a human rights and capability theoretical framework and a participatory approach.
Dr Share presented findings from her recent research report entitled “Food Access and Nutritional Health among Famliies in Emergency Accommodation”. Her report, which can be found here, integrated semi-structured interviews with families and photo-elicitation methodology.
Dr Peter Mackie, Dr Steve Gaetz and Mike Allen explored the topic of preventing homelessness in a roundtable event. This event took the form of an open discussion which considered international lessons on prevention of homelessness and how this can be applied in an Irish context.
Dr Tom Moore presented findings from his comparative analysis of the private rented sector between Ireland and England. His report, which was co-written with Dr Richard Dunning (University of Liverpool) and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation can be found here.
Sarah Sheridan (Focus Ireland’s Research Officer) presented analysis drawn from four waves of data collection during 2016. The findings – which are regularly published on the Focus Ireland website – yield insights into family homelessness which are of relevance to both services and policy-makers.
Dr O’Donoghue Hynes presented a detailed review of key data for the Dublin region. A review of statistics relating to numbers of persons engaging and flowing through homeless services will be explored and past and future trends analysed.
Nicholas Pleace presented on research he conducted with Dennis Culhane (University of Pennsylvania) which examined the financial implications of extending preventative services for single homeless people in England, drawing on the lessons of extending homelessness prevention in Wales.
This talk was based on a study into the experiences of staff members in Dublin’s homeless services on working with individuals who report mental illness and addiction issues. This research, which was carried out in May 2015 as part of a Masters in Global Health, involved interviewing staff in various homeless services using semi-structured interviews.
This talk detailed the planning, roll-out and evaluation of a targeted homelessness prevention campaign in Dublin 15 funded by Bord Gais.
The presentation analysed trends in expenditure over the past 4 years, exploring the breakdown of expenditure between preventative and emergency services, the extent of funding by service provider and regional variations.
Dr Anne O’Farrell from the HSE examined inpatient hospitalisation admission data and found a 400% increase of individuals who were categorised as having “no fixed abode” over the last ten years.
Helen Johnston of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) talked about research on the circumstances of these jobless households, and explored the links between homelessness and joblessness.
‘Hearing it from the ground up’: An account of peer research into the social damage of the crisis in Ireland. This study forms part of a wider EU-funded Horizon 2020 study.
‘Evaluation of Sonas Safe Home Project’. Dr Steph Holt presented research findings from a mixed methods study of a Sonas housing service for victims of domestic abuse.
Roundtable discussion on the implementation of Housing First in both an Irish and a European Context. This event provided an opportunity to explore barriers and opportunities in implementing Housing First in Canada and across Europe and to generate discussion on how we apply these learnings to an Irish context.
‘Recent Trends in Homelessness in Ireland’. In analysing statistical reports on homeless populations published by Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Prof. O’Sullivan presenting emerging trends in both the prevalence and profile of individuals and families becoming homeless across Ireland.
‘A Preliminary Analysis of Children and Families in Emergency Homeless Accommodation’. Alison presented key findings from an analysis of administrative data relating to families becoming homeless in 2015.
Nuala Ward (Director of Investigations, Ombudsman for Children) launched a report on food access and nutritional health of families living in emergency homeless accommodation. The report – which was led by Dr Michelle Share from the School of Education (Trinity College Dublin) – explores families’ everyday experiences of food routines and strategies in homeless accommodation and the impact this has had on the nutrition and health outcomes on both parents and their children. This research was funded by DCYA and Department of Health and commissioned by Focus Ireland.
Former President Mary McAleese launched Dr Paula Mayock and Sarah Parker’s (School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin) newly-published book “Living in Limbo” which details findings of a longitudinal study of young people experiencing homelessness. This study – which ‘tracks’ young people and their family members over time – marks a critical contribution to our understanding of youth homelessness in Ireland today. The report was funded by Focus Ireland, Simon Communities, Threshold, St Vincent de Paul, and Peter McVerry Trust. See the Irish Times news piece on the report here.
Focus Ireland and Tusla co-launched an evaluation on Limerick Youth Housing which was conducted by Just Economics research consultants. The success of the project is seen to be linked to the effective and productive partnership approach between Focus Ireland, Tusla and Limerick City & County Council. It is hoped that Focus Ireland will be able to use the service as a model of good practice to be replicated elsewhere around the country through a partnership approach, as articulated in our recently-published Youth Housing Model. There was extensive regional and national media coverage of the event, including RTE Drive Time and RTE News.
Advocacy Events in Partnership with School of Social Work and Social Policy (TCD)
Dr Peter Mackie (University of Cardiff), Melanie Redman (A Way Home, Canada) and Dr Steve Gaetz (Canadian Observatory of Homelessness) presented on homelessness prevention in Wales and Canada.
An Open Meeting Event with Prof Steve Gaetz (Homeless Hub), Melanie Redman (A Way Home: Working Together to End youth Homelessness) and Dr Paula Mayock (TCD). Chaired by Gordon Hill (National Youth Council of Ireland). This even took place on 28th June 2016 in the Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street.
Professor Tim Aubry (At Home/Chez Soi Demonstration Project, University of Ottawa) gave a presentation on Housing First in Canada on 19th April 2016 in Trinity College Dublin.