One in four impacted by ‘hidden homelessness’, survey finds

People forced to rely on family and friends for a place to stay not counted in official figures

A poll conducted on behalf of the Simon Communities has found that 25 per cent of people know someone who has been forced to rely on friends or family for a roof over their heads over the last year. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

As many as one in four people in Ireland have been impacted by “hidden homelessness”, according to new research published by one of Ireland’s leading charities.

A poll conducted on behalf of the Simon Communities of Ireland has found that 25 per cent of people know someone who has been forced to rely on friends or family for a roof over their heads over the last year, with most describing the situation as “being unintended and without a clear leaving date”.

Such people are not included in official statistics, which suggests the homelessness and housing crisis is significantly worse than the already bleak figures indicate.

The findings also suggest that 18-34 year olds are significantly more likely to report an experience of hidden homelessness themselves, which contrasts with those over the age of 55 who did not record the experience at all.

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The report also pointed to a higher level of uncertainty among lower socioeconomic groups as to when the situation will end for those affected, something the Simon Communities said highlighted “the precarious nature of the situation should economic conditions worsen, which at present, seems likely”.

The poll was conducted by Red C among 1,015 people, with the research carried out in the last week of July.

“The scale of the challenge to address homelessness reflected in the findings of this poll should give pause to the Government,” said Simon Communities spokesman Wayne Stanley. “We need to examine the way that the crisis is being addressed and find ways to move forward more quickly.”

Mr Stanley was speaking ahead of a conference this week which, he said, would “set out in more detail our belief that vacancy levels in Ireland provide an opportunity to make progress”.

The conference will examine challenges in provision of homeless services and potential solutions, with panels on the day looking at single-person homelessness, the lack of supply of housing and the frontline experience.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor