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Simon Communities

Over 30,000 people in Ireland affected by hidden homelessness

Loss of home from the private rental market was the most common reason for experiencing hidden homelessness.

SOME 32,000 PEOPLE on the island of Ireland are affected by hidden homelessness.

That is according to a new poll by Ireland Thinks and Lucid Talks, which shows that surging costs are making the private rental market increasingly inaccessible to those on lower incomes.

Hidden homelessness is used to describe those whose insecure housing situation is not visible on the streets because they may sleep in cars, couch surf, or are squatting elsewhere.

Loss of home from the private rental market – because the landlord was selling up or wanted the property for their own use – was the most common reason for experiencing hidden homelessness, with four in ten people (40%) citing this in the Republic of Ireland as well as Northern Ireland (37%).

The research found that 24,000 households in the Republic of Ireland – and a further 8,500 households in Northern Ireland – are currently experiencing the issue of hidden homelessness.

Eight in ten (83%) people in Ireland, and a further seven in ten (77%) people throughout Northern Ireland are having to endure hidden homelessness for a period of six months or longer.

The polls had sample sizes of 1,762 in the Republic of Ireland and 1,050 in Northern Ireland, with less than one in twenty (3.3%) households in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (3.8%) confirming they currently have no alternative but to live in a variety of situations.

The new data also indicates younger people (18-34-year-olds) are more likely to experience hidden homelessness, while cases of hidden homelessness in the Republic of Ireland involving women are 3% more compared to males. There was no difference reported in Northern Ireland.

Another key difference revealed by the research is how those dealing with homelessness in the Republic of Ireland were less likely to contact their local housing authorities than those in Northern Ireland.

Wayne Stanley, Executive Director, Simon Communities of Ireland, says the poll shows that provision of affordable and secure housing will help more people avoid homelessness.

Half of those experiencing hidden homelessness are not contacting their local authority for support.

“This suggests that there is more we can do to reach out to this cohort,” said Stanley.

Jim Dennison, Chief Executive of Simon Community Northern Ireland, said the figure of over 55,000 people in Northern Ireland being homeless is “stark”, but estimates it may be much higher.

“More and more households will be forced into homelessness due to social and economic factors,” he said.

He hopes the data will help charities and policy makers “understand the true scale and nature of the problem, and so we are able to develop the solutions to tackle it”.

The poll is set to be the focal point at a conference hosted by the Simon Communities of Ireland and Simon Community Northern Ireland in Dublin today.

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