Charities warn thousands of Irish children affected by 'hidden homelessness

Barnardos says the situation is having a devastating impact on children's development

Charities warn thousands of Irish children affected by 'hidden homelessness

Image: Barnardos

A group of Ireland's leading charities have come together to call for urgent action to address Ireland's 'hidden homelessness.'

The charities warn that many families in Ireland have no place to call home and are often "doubling and tripling up, staying with friends or relatives as they have nowhere else to go."

Families living in these "precarious, unsuitable and unsustainable" situation often do not qualify for many State support services, despite facing many of the same challenges faced by those living in emergency accommodation.

Barnardos, Focus Ireland, Simon Communities in Ireland and Society of St Vincent de Paul have launched a joint campaign to bring attention to "thousands of individuals, families and children" affected by the issue.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay said one-in-five children accessing the charity's services is experiencing hidden homelessness.

He said living in unsuitable, cramped conditions is having a devastating impact on children in particular:

"The problems that go with that; that are cropping up on a day-to-day basis, range from delays in developmental milestones to some very, very basic things - difficulty in toilet training; difficulty in learning to crawl and walk because of lack of space.

"Huge identity issues; huge emotional issues."

He said the long-term solution is the same as the solution to the wider homelessness crisis - build more homes.

In the mean-time he said it is essential that families are given more State support - and that they are made fully aware of the supports that are available.

In a statement, Simon Communities spokesperson Niamh Randall said people who present as homeless are often asked if they have anywhere else they can stay.

"They stay with family or friends, in overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation," she said.

"The stress this creates is huge.

"The State must build and procure secure social and affordable homes for people.

"We need to move away from the heavy reliance on the private sector for the provision of social housing and ensure a greater focus on affordability.”

The new campaign aims to raise awareness of the experiences of families experiencing hidden homelessness by sharing real and personal stories.