News & Media

Action needed to tackle child homelessness

20 November 2019

Statement by Jan O'Sullivan

Labour spokesperson on Housing, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has expressed deep concern about the findings of a Royal College of Physicians report on the impact of homelessness on children, and called on the Government to progress the Labour Party’s Homeless Families Bill.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“With more research being carried out into the impact of homelessness on children, we are getting a clearer picture of the long-term damage being caused.

“This report from the Royal College of Physicians shows that just under 40 per cent of homeless children experience ‘significant’ mental health or behavioural issues.

“In Ireland, the most recent official figures showed that 3,873 children are now living in emergency accommodation, and according to Focus Ireland, more than 140 children have been born into homeless families in Dublin this year.

“This is a truly heart-breaking situation and a poor reflection on modern Ireland.

“The reality is that many people becoming homeless are coming from the private rental sector and are being pushed out due to the extortionate cost of renting in Ireland at the moment.

“The Government needs to freeze rents until enough homes have been built to address this crisis, and drastically ramp up the building of social and affordable homes.

“At the very least, we believe that in a crisis accommodation situation, the rights of a child should be at the heart of every decision made regarding a homeless family.

“We’re again calling on the Government to progress our Homeless Families Bill which we believe would bring about a change in approach in how local authorities deal with families in this regard, and would prevent for example, a homeless family being placed in a Garda station overnight as has happened in the past.

“The housing and homelessness crisis is one of the biggest issues facing the country at present and is having a harmful effect on our children. It needs to be treated with the urgency it requires.”