Focus Ireland conducts and facilitates high-quality research in order to ensure robust evidence-based responses to homelessness in Ireland.

Insights into Family Homelessness Series

Focus Ireland's ‘Insight’ series aims to produce timely and relevant data and analysis pertaining to family homelessness in Ireland. These reports can be read independently or in conjunction with one another.

Stanley and Allen (2018) Insights into Family Homelessness No 13 - Family Homelessness End of Year Review 2017

The growth in the number of families in excess of 24 months in homelessness in the Dublin should be one of the key indicators of concern. There must be an imperative on the state to ensure that housing options and any necessary supports are put in place to facilitate them to move to independent living. In addition given the growth in family homelessness in the rest of Ireland there is a growing need for a greater publication of data about the causal factors and duration of family homelessness beyond the Dublin region, and a roll out of policies which have been successful in Dublin (such as Homeless HAP, and pre-qualification for HAP) to other major towns and cities.

Insights into Family Homelessness No 12 - Families Exiting Homelessness - An Analysis of March 2016 Telephone Survey Cohort

Every three months, Focus Ireland Research Team conducts telephone surveys with families presenting as homeless to understand the root causes of their homelessness, their housing histories and key demographic details. In an effort to capture families’ routes out of homelessness, we conducted an exercise by tracking the families who participated in March 2016 telephone survey through PASS database (Homeless Services Management System). During this month, 70 families were surveyed (representing 83% of all families who presented as homeless within the Dublin region that month).

Insights into Family Homelessness No. 11 - Survey of the Families that became Homeless during June 2017

This study presents key findings from a short quantitative survey conducted by telephone with 27 families who presented as homeless in the Dublin region during June 2017. Similar to previous waves of data collection, 70% of families reported their last stable home was in the private rented sector. Issues around affordability, landlords leaving the sector, relationship breakdown, and substandard accommodation were key triggers into homelessness.

Insights into Family Homelessness No. 10 - Survey of the Families that became Homeless during March 2017

This study presents key findings from a short quantitative survey conducted by telephone with 38 families who presented as homeless in the Dublin region during March 2017. Similar findings emerge in March 2017 data collection as compared to the averages recorded in 2016 surveys: high numbers of families were made homeless due to landlords leaving the private rented market.

Insights into Family Homlessness No. 9 - Complete Analysis of All Telephone Surveys with Families that Became Homeless During 2016

This study presents full data analysis of all 183 telephone surveys which were administered on a quarterly basis to families presenting as homeless during 2016. The findings demonstrated how a key cause of family homelessness is intimately related to dynamics in the private rented housing market - which is disproportionately impacting on low income households.

Insights into Family Homelessness No. 8 - Survey of the Families that became Homeless during December 2016

This study presents key findings from a short quantitative survey conducted by telephone with 23 families who presented as homeless in the Dublin region during December 2016. The December findings demonstrated, once again, high numbers of lone parents, parents who are dependent on social welfare payments, migrant parents and young parents. In comparison to previous 2016 surveys, the December families were more likely hidden homelessness and marginalisation from the housing market for lengthy periods of time

Insights into Family Homelessness No.7 Survey of the families that became homeless during September 2016

This study presents key findings from a short quantitative survey conducted by telephone with 43 families who presented as homeless in the Dublin region during September 2016. Mirroring previous reports in this series, the findings in September highlight how landlords leaving the private rented sector are resulting in families becoming homeless. A quarter of all families consist of parents under the age of 25 years.

Insights into Family Homelessness No. 6 - The Growth in Family Homelessness is Beginning to Slow Down

In the second half of 2016, there was a distinct positive shift in the pattern of rising family homelessness. While the total number of families which are homeless has continued to rise, the rate of increase has slowed significantly. This commentary looks at the data available on the entries and departures of families from homelessness to explore what is driving the changing pattern. In addition, the commentary attempts to assess whether the factors behind the deceleration represent a ‘turning of the tide’ or whether there is likely to be a return to a pattern of increases

Insights into Family Homelessness No.5 Survey of the families that became homeless during June 2016

This study presents key findings from a short quantitative survey conducted by telephone with 47 families who presented as homeless in the Dublin region during June 2016. The findings demonstrated that families entering homelessness are being squeezed out of an increasingly unaffordable private rented sector. There was a high proportion of migrant families and lone parent families, while 17 respondents reported that they became homeless due to their landlord selling the property.

Insights into Family Homelessness No.4 – Survey of the families that became homeless during March 2016

This study presents key findings from a short quantitative survey conducted by telephone with 70 families who presented as homeless in the Dublin region during March 2016. Three quarters of the sample reported that their last stable home was in the private rented sector. The majority were also in receipt of Rent Supplement during their last tenancy. The findings highlight the increased precariousness of the private rented sector for low income households. Key ‘at-risk’ groups were also identified including victims of domestic violence; migrants; and young mothers.

Insights into Family Homelessness No.3 – Are the children of families that are homeless attending DEIS schools?

This study looked at whether children in families that are homeless are attending DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) which have access to additional educational supports to tackle disadvantage. In examining all families who were allocated to Focus Ireland Family Homeless Action Team between January and November 2015, 55% of the children were found to be attending DEIS schools. This finding has policy implications with regards how non-DEIS schools can be supported to respond to families experiencing homelessness within their school community.

Insights into Family Homelessness No.2 – Survey of the Families that became Homeless during July 2015

This document presents data collected through telephone surveys with families. The findings revealed that family homelessness continues to be driven by the crisis in the private rented sector (escalating rents and landlords withdrawing from the market). The survey data also revealed the indirect routes for many families into homelessness, with many residing in ‘hidden’ living situations for prolonged periods before presenting as homeless.

Insights into Family Homelessness No.1 – Children and Families living in Dublin’s Emergency Accommodation

This study analyses Focus Ireland administrative data of the families residing in emergency accommodation. Details such as the age, gender, school stage of children, as well as the family composition, distance from school, and area of residence prior to their homelessness are all identified in the report. The report offers relevant demographic information for policy-makers and service providers which offers insight into the needs of families and children residing in emergency accommodation.


Focus Ireland’s research work aims to support and inform the organisation’s provision of housing and services to people out-of-home and its lobbying, campaigning, policy and education .

Keeping a Home: Preventing Families from Becoming Homeless

This publication presents the findings of a commissioned study of Focus Ireland's prevention services which work with families in Dublin, Limerick, Sligo, Kilkenny and Waterford. The findings highlight the effectiveness of holistic supports that meet a variety of social, economic and emotional needs with which families present.

Finding a Home: Families' Journeys out of Homelessness

To date, no research has been undertaken in an Irish context to document and understand the ways in which families exit homelessness. Little is known about the more medium-term impacts of these experiences on these families, and on the overall well-being of parents and children. This qualitative study of 25 families explored their experiences of journeying out of homelessness, whilst also considering the impact homelessness had on family life.

Food Access and Nutritional Health among Families in Homeless Emergency Accommodation

This study - which integrates interviews with families with the use of photography - explores families' everyday experiences of food routines in homeless accommodation. The analysis uncovers the negative impact homelessness has on the nutrition and health outcomes on both parents and their children. The researchers also conducted interviews with key stakeholders working in the area. This study was funded by DCYA and Department of Health.

Living in Limbo: Homeless Young People's Paths to Housing

This publication presents key findings from a qualitative longitudinal study of youth homelessness in Ireland. It aimed to ‘track’ the flow of events and experiences that impact young people’s homeless and housing trajectories over time. It was funded across five homelessness organisations – Focus Ireland, Simon Communities, Threshold, Peter McVerry Trust and SVP – and marks a critical contribution to our understanding of youth homelessness in Ireland today.

Reinvest Peer Research

This report is part of a H2020-funded European research project to promote social investment and runs from 2015-2019 across 13 countries. The Irish Re-Invest Project (based in NUI Maynooth) engaged with a core group of peer researchers who participated in all stages of the research process. Their research study explored the impact of the economic crisis in Ireland.

‘Come back when you’re homeless’: A Study of Families becoming Homeless during April 2015

This study examines the housing journeys of 52 families who became homeless in the Dublin region during April 2015. The findings revealed the precariousness of the private rented sector in terms of affordability problems, landlord selling the property, and issues around finding alternative accommodation which accepts rent supplement. The document forwards a number of recommendations – many of which highlight the importance of prevention.

Young People, Homelessness and Housing Exclusion

The findings presented in this research are drawn from Phase 1 of a qualitative longitudinal study designed to track the experiences of homeless and ‘out of home’ young people over time. While the research privileges young people’s accounts, it makes an innovative departure from existing research on homeless youth in Ireland by including the perspectives of family members. This study was led by Dr Paula Mayock, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin.

‘Homelessness is My New Home’: Migrants’ Experiences of Homelessness in Dublin.

This is a qualitative study of migrants who were either residing in emergency accommodation or sleeping rough. The findings demonstrate the additional barriers migrants may face in accessing critical services and social welfare support due to residency issues. Furthermore, many respondents demonstrated a lack of knowledge of available services as well as language barriers

'Out of Reach': The Impact of Change in Rent Supplement

This study examines the impact of Rent Supplement changes in the private rented sector in Ireland. The findings highlight the widespread practice of tenants having to ‘top up’ allocated rental supplement to meet market rents. This can result in indebtedness, arrears, and ultimately loss of accommodation.

Focus Ireland Ethical Guidelines for Conducting Research

Focus Ireland has always recognised the importance of high-quality and robust research in understanding and informing service planning and delivery to tackling homelessness. However, this research must be conducted sensitively and responsibly. This document provides ethical guidelines for conducting research with those experiencing homelessness.

Making a Home in Ireland: Housing Experiences of Chinese, Indian, Lithuanian & Nigerian Migrants in Blanchardstown

This study focuses on the housing experiences of four migrant groups in Blanchardstown. The research findings highlight that in order to nurture a sense of ‘home’ and belonging for migrants, it is vitally important to ensure that migrant communities have stable and adequate housing as well as access to healthcare, education and transport.

Rental Systems in Ireland: The Case for Change

This publication considers rental systems in Ireland in addressing housing need. It is based on a papers presented at policy workshops organised by Focus Ireland in collaboration with Centre for Urban and Regional Studies in Trinity College Dublin. Dr Rory O’Donnell, Professor Christine Whitehead, Simon Brooke, Daithí Downey, and Christine Dibelius all make compelling contributions to the collection.

Homeless Pathways: Developing Effective Strategies to Address Pathways Into, Through and Out of Homelessness

This in-depth qualitative study examines the homeless pathways of seventeen Focus Ireland customers in exploring their pathways into, through and possibly out of homelessness. The research takes a life course approach to explore how life events and experiences impact on homeless pathways. This analysis offers insights into strategies of prevention, particularly in relation to preventing episodic or ‘repeated’ homelessness.

Building for Inclusion? Housing Output and Part V of the Irish Planning and Development System

In this report, Simon Brooke considers whether Part V of the Planning and Development Act – i.e. the allowance for up to 20 per cent of land of new developments to be reserved for social housing – had made an impact on the provision of affordable housing. Brooke argues that the Part V housing output requires greater collaboration between local authorities and developers and identifies a number of areas where change is required.

Hickey and Downey (2003) Hungry for Change: Social Exclusion, Food Poverty and Homelessness

This report presents findings from a pilot study undertaken in 2002 and 2003 in response to a Combat Agency invitation for research proposals to examine the policy response to food poverty in Ireland. Given the often chaotic and transient nature of the lives of homeless households and individuals, the ability to consume a healthy diet on a daily basis can be severely constrained by issues of affordability and access, as well as issues of choice, food preparation, storage and cooking facilities.

Crime and Homelessness

The relationship between homelessness and crime is a complex one and one that needs further study, however, this exploratory study does show that homeless men and women perceive a relationship between these two variables and recognise that among other things substance misuse, relationship breakdown, breakdown of social and community networks, education and training disadvantage and a general inability to cope with life after prolonged periods of institutionalisation also contribute to this complex cycle of offending behaviour and homelessness.

Housing Access for All? An Analysis of Housing Strategies and Homeless Action Plans. This work was conducted by Focus Ireland, Simon Communities, Threshold and St Vincent de Paul

This analysis – which was conducted in 2001 by Focus Ireland, Simon Communities, SVP and Threshold – examined 33 housing strategies and 20 homeless action plans in Ireland. The report highlights the scale of housing need and called for increased provision of affordable housing stock to ensure the problem does not continue to worsen.

A Profile of Needs and Service Use of the Long-Term Homeless Population

This study, which combined questionnaires with Focus Ireland customers and tracking of service utilisation of a cohort of customers, demonstrated the extensive transience and multiple accommodation transitions. The study highlights that young people leaving care are institutionalised or abandoned when they age out of care system.

Left Out on their Own: Young People Leaving Care in Ireland

This is the first national study of young people leaving care in Ireland. The findings demonstrated that a large number of young people were homeless and were moving in and out of care. The study found social disadvantage, emotional trauma, and multiple placements across the sample. The findings point to a need for greater aftercare provision and resettlement support for young people upon leaving State care.

The Mental & Physical Health & Well-Being of Homeless Families in Dublin – A Pilot Study

This pilot study came about as a result of concern of the effects of homelessness on families and their children. The findings highlighted the negative impact homelessness has on all aspects of family life as well as health and well-being. The study calls for an integrated response to family homelessness – particularly around the provision of good-quality affordable housing and supportive services for families and children.