One in eight homeless people is less than 14 years old, data shows


CENSUS 2012:MORE THAN 450 children aged under 14 are homeless, census results released yesterday show.

Children under 14 represented almost one-eighth (457) of the population of 3,808 homeless people identified on census night in April 2011.

This was the first time that such detailed information on homeless people was taken in a census.

Sixty-four people were sleeping rough (1.7 per cent), most of whom were male and based in Dublin.

More than two-fifths of homeless people were in emergency accommodation, a quarter were in long-term accommodation and others were in transitional accommodation (14.5 per cent).

The category of homelessness was based on where people were staying on census night, rather than on self-identification.

Of the children identified, 199 were aged under four and 154 were aged between five and nine. A further 184 young people aged 15 to 19 were homeless.

There were 208 people of pensionable age identified as homeless, one-third of whom were over 75. Almost three-quarters of homeless people were aged between 20 and 59.

Two-thirds of the homeless population were male. Almost a third of homeless men were aged over 50, compared with only 15 per cent of females.

The census showed major differences between the homeless and general population in terms of education, health, disability and marital status.

There was a significantly higher level of separation and divorce among the homeless population (16.7 per cent) than the general population (6 per cent). Just 6 per cent of homeless people were married, while two-thirds were single.

There were also much lower levels of education among homeless people than the general population. More than a quarter of homeless people aged over 15 did not have an education above primary level, compared with 8 per cent of the general population.

Half of homeless people had not gone beyond lower second level, compared with a quarter of the general population.

While half of the homeless population was in the labour force, 84 per cent of this group were unemployed or looking for a first job.

The homeless also fared badly in terms of health, with one-third indicating their health was fair, bad or very bad compared with a 10th of the general population.

There were significantly higher levels of disability among the homeless population (42 per cent) than the general population (13 per cent). The most common type of disability was a psychological or emotional condition.

More than 80 per cent of homeless people were Irish. There was a slightly higher proportion of non-Irish people (15 per cent) homeless compared with the general population (12 per cent).

The largest group of non-Irish homeless was UK nationals, at 139; there were 140 from African countries and 75 from Poland. Just over 4 per cent of the homeless population were Irish Travellers.

Reacting to the findings, Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan said she was “determined that real solutions for people who find themselves without a home are provided”.

One of her priorities was “to ensure that these people have access to secure, stable, appropriate accommodation”, she said.

Focus Ireland said the report showed urgent Government action was required. The Simon Community said homelessness should be a priority in the budget.

Both organisations said the figure did not capture the hidden homeless, such as “sofa surfers” staying with friends or rough sleepers not known to services.