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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 14 July, 2020
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Mother and three children forced to take damp two-bed flat with sewage issues

The family took the flat to avoid emergency accommodation.

Image: Shutterstock/altanaka

CHILDREN ARE CONTINUING to become homeless and live in unsuitable accommodation, according to Barnardos.

The latest figures from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive show that 371 families with 803 children were living in emergency accommodation last month.

That’s a 40% increase on figures from last June, when it started tracking the number of families in emergency accommodation in Dublin. A Barnardos project worker said:

A parent with three children had to move house because the landlord was selling. Mum was so desperate to get alternative accommodation she accepted a two-bed flat in a complex where rising damp and sewage issues are common.

“She is entitled to a three-bed due to her family size but nothing was available and she did not want to end up in emergency accommodation.”

Head of Advocacy at Barnardos June Tinsley said, “Unstable and inappropriate accommodation can have a devastating impact on children.

“Not only the physical challenges, including the lack of privacy, nowhere to play or do homework. But inevitably the stress a parent is carrying will rub off on their children, causing untold emotional distress.”

Nationwide problem 

Tinsley said rent supplement levels are woefully low, as are the Housing Assistance Payments caps meaning families have to make up the deficit to afford the rent being charged.

“Rent supplements are not near enough to cover the actual cost of rents, some landlords are not accepting rent supplement clients and others are selling up leaving families with nowhere to go.”

This problem is not just a Dublin one – it is nationwide. Last month, TheJournal.ie spoke to a woman from Clare who was sleeping on a friend’s sofa after becoming homeless because the rent supplement was too low and there was no available housing.

Tinsley added, “While the proposed ban on landlords refusing rent allowance and a pledge to consider some mechanism of rent controls are steps in the right direction, they are not enough.

The level of desperation is so acute that in some cases parents are considering becoming homeless voluntarily in the hope that six months in emergency accommodation will secure them more stable homes.

“We know of one child who couldn’t get onto a waiting list for an operation because he was living in emergency accommodation and therefore technically was of no fixed abode.

“We are working with parents who have been unable to secure access visits with their children because the parent was in emergency accommodation; parents who have had to make the heart-breaking decision to leave their children in care because they are unable to secure appropriate accommodation.”

Read: Are you concerned landlord TDs could negatively affect rising rents?>

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