Poor housing can “scar children for life,” the ERSI has warned.
Research by the organisation found that one in 10 children in Ireland are living in unsuitable housing and this has a long-term impact on their wellbeing.
“We found that children growing up and spending more time in their childhood within inadequate housing conditions - such as in homes that families are struggling to warm or in cramped conditions or where there is more damp or leaks - actually come away at nine-years-old facing much greater social and emotional difficulties,” Dr James Laurence told Newstalk Breakfast.
“We also found it has a big impact on their health as well; for example, children growing up in damp conditions in their homes are more likely to face respiratory illnesses as well at age nine.
“One of the big things coming out of it was that the longer a child spends during their childhood in these more inadequate housing conditions, the worse harm they actually have on their health and wellbeing.”
Three quarters of children live in owner occupied housing, 12% in social housing and 11% in the private rented sector; the remaining 1% live with at their grandparents home.
“Families in owner occupied housing did actually tend to have better housing outcomes than those in the private rental sector and those in the social rental sector as well,” Dr Laurence said.
“Thankfully, it’s a good sign that we have a large proportion of families in [owned] homes but one problem is that long-term trends in Ireland are showing that levels of home ownership are decreasing quite substantially over time.
“At the same time, we’re seeing higher levels of families in the rental sector and this in particular is associated with worse housing outcomes, insecure tenancies, families having to move a lot more and all these things play a big part in children’s health and wellbeing.”
Dr Laurence warned that the impact of poor housing does not stop once a child becomes an adult and continue to shape them for years afterwards.
“Children who experience these things at a young age, these impacts tend to last over their life and so what you can find therefore is that early experiences of housing inadequacy - and the problems it causes - go on to essentially scar children over their life course,” he said.
“That can lead to a host of other problems - which in turn later in life can affect people’s economic outcomes and health outcomes.
“Which could in turn lead to cycles of people being unable to escape these [problems].”
Main image: Poor housing conditions. Picture by: Alamy.com