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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
hidden homelessness

One-third of Irish adults know someone who has recently experienced housing exclusion

That’s according to a new survey published by the Simon Communities of Ireland today.

ALMOST THREE IN 10 Irish adults know someone who is living with housing exclusion, or who has done so in the past 12 months, according to research published by the Simon Communities of Ireland today.

The national omnibus survey, conducted on behalf of the charity in September by Amarách Research, found awareness of someone living temporarily with another household is highest among those aged under-25 and living in Leinster. 

A total of 27% of respondents said they know – or knew within the last 12 months – someone or a family who is living temporarily with another household who does not have a regular address of their own. 

73% of people said they didn’t know someone in such a situation. 

“The findings in our national poll confirm that housing exclusion is pervasive and is within touching distance of almost three in ten Irish adults,” Simon Communities of Ireland head of policy and communications Wayne Stanley said. 

“We know from the work of the Simon Communities in Ireland that too much of this is ‘hidden homelessness’.”

Hidden homelessness refers to people who move in with family and friends – often living in crowded, highly unsuitable accommodation sometimes for long periods of time.

Families will opt to live in this type of situation instead of declaring as homeless, and as a result will not be included in monthly figures.

In the 18-24 year old age group, 46% of survey respondents said they were aware of someone or a family living without a regular address.

This was followed by the 25-34 age group, where 37% of respondents were aware of someone in precarious accommodation.

Awareness of a person or family in temporary accommodation dropped to 16% among those in the 55+ years cohort.

“Ten years ago, homelessness was something that happened to people we did not know.  It’s now a reality for family, friends and colleagues,” Stanley said. 

Homelessness has moved from something that was outside the circle of the vast majority, to something that is in the circle of large sections of our national adult population.

Stanley said that, through the survey, the charity aimed to identify awareness of housing exclusion, where people are staying in a household – and on a temporary basis – without any tenancy or ownership rights.

“Too often, this is hidden homelessness, where people are sleeping on a floor or a couch, and are only living day-to-day while caught in such precarious living.”

Election issues

In addition to securing an understanding of awareness of people living in temporary accommodation, Simon has also sought to establish if housing and homelessness will feature among issues for the electorate ahead of the next general election.

While health came out as the number one issue that those surveyed would like to see the next government prioritise after the general election, housing and homelessness followed as the second most important issue.

41% of adults surveyed prioritised health, 28% prioritised housing and homelessness, while the environment and climate action was prioritised by 22% of those surveyed.

“These results present a clear message to all politicians seeking national office in the next general election. That message is that housing and tackling homelessness are election issues, and the electorate wants a government that is committed to delivering solutions,” Stanley said. 

Concern for government action on housing and homelessness is prevalent among all age groups, with the greatest levels of concern among those aged under-25 (32%).

This is followed by those aged 35 – 44 years (30%), and those aged over-55.

Women show greater likelihood of prioritising housing and homelessness than men, at 30% vs 25%. Men are more likely to prioritise health, at 45% vs 36%.

A total sample size of 1,000 Irish adults were surveyed by Amarách research. 

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