Trapped in limbo: The city’s young homeless

by Emma Nolan
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SOME 40 young people were followed over a two-year period to research the serious negative consequences of the housing and homelessness crisis, with only 24% of those who took part in the study leaving homelessness during the period – a significant drop on previous studies.
Described as “living in limbo”, 76% of those studied were either homeless or living in insecure accommodation.
The research was undertaken in order to examine the factors, experiences and circumstances that impacted on their homelessness and housing situations over time.
Family breakdown, leaving State care, early school leaving and a lack of access to employment are some of the reasons that are causing young Dubliners to become homeless.
The lack of access to affordable housing was one of the key reasons these young people remained trapped in homelessness.
As Michael (25) said: “There is not enough housing, so like once you fall into this trap [homelessness], it’s very, very hard to get out of it.”
A range of other problems compounded this lack of access to housing, including restrictive/inadequate rent supplement payments, long waiting periods for social housing, and delays in welfare payments.
Bryan (24) said: “Even though I was eligible for the rent supplement initiative, it was still impossible to find housing.”
Discrimination by landlords towards people in receipt of the rent subsidy also proved to be a prominent factor.
Abigail (21) said: “Most people don’t want to take rent allowance. You’d get there [to rental property] and they’d be like, ‘Oh no, sorry, we don’t accept rent allowance’.”
The study found that the lack of access to housing forced many of the young people into situations of ‘hidden’ homelessness, which saw many of them ‘sofa-surfing’ in the homes of family members, friends and acquaintances.
Collette (22) said: “I had to fight hard. I’d be ringing services every day, asking: ‘Is there anything there? Please help me’.”
Speaking on behalf of the charities involved, Mike Allen, Focus Ireland, said: “The research shows there are many reasons young people become homeless, but it also clearly indicates there are very targeted measures that can, and must, be put in place to prevent more young people becoming homeless next month, next year and in coming years.”
The report called for more resources to be directed towards securing housing and services for young people through an innovative Housing First For Youth approach, aimed at providing young people with housing as quickly as possible.
It also called for targeted, person-centred supports in housing including healthcare, counselling, education, training, financial advice and further supports.

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