Words: Ellen Kenny
Figures from the Simon Community show that as many as 290,000 Irish adults have experience with hidden homelessness, showing the housing crisis is worst than official figures show.
Research from Simon Communities Ireland show that one in four people knows someone who has experienced hidden homelessness in the past 12 months, or has experienced it themselves.
A poll conducted with 1,015 Irish adults by Red C for the charity reveals that friends or family are increasingly relied upon to provide accommodation for others. 26 per cent of respondents knew someone dealing with hidden homelessness or were dealing with it themselves. One in 100 respondents said both them and their family were dealing with hidden homeless.
According to the Simon Community, the findings meant about 290,000 adults have experienced hidden homelessness in the past 12 months, where people stay with family or friends, couch surf or live in unsuitable overcrowded accommodation.
Nine per cent of respondents said they knew someone in hidden homelessness in the last 12 months, while five per cent said they had experienced it themselves.
According to the poll, 18 to 34 year-olds are significantly more likely to report experiencing hidden homelessness themselves. Men and women between the ages of 18 to 24 were the most likely to be staying with family or friends due to lack of accommodation. The poll shows young people and those from lower socio-economic groups are most likely to be affected by hidden homelessness.
Adults over 55 reported a hidden homelessness rate of zero per cent, but eight per cent of respondents over 55 did report knowing someone experiencing hidden homelessness.
73 per cent of people who reported being affected or know someone who is affected said the situation was “forced and unintended”.
People affected by hidden homelessness are not counted in Government homeless figures released every month so it is difficult to measure how many people are impacted.
Simon Communities Ireland head of policy Wayne Stanley said they hoped their findings increased awareness around the issue and forced the Government to address the problem: ““The scale of the challenge to address homelessness reflected in the findings of this poll should give pause to the Government.”
“We need to examine the way that the crisis is being addressed and find ways to move forward more quickly.”
A recent report from Focus Ireland also urged the Government to create a “broader” definition for homelessness beyond those sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation.
The latest figure from the Government state that there are 10,568 homeless people in Ireland.
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