Barnardos predicts major crisis in child homelessness by end of year

Some children see violence and drug use in accommodation, says Fergus Finlay

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay: called on the Government to act quickly to address rising rents, discrimination in the private rental sector, inappropriateness of emergency accommodation and lack of social housing. Photograph: Alan Betson.

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay: called on the Government to act quickly to address rising rents, discrimination in the private rental sector, inappropriateness of emergency accommodation and lack of social housing. Photograph: Alan Betson.

 

Thousands of children may be left homeless by the end of the year and those already affected are suffering “fear, uncertainty and isolation”, Barnardos has warned.

Fergus Finlay, the chief executive of Ireland’s largest children’s charity, said: “There’ll be an explosion – a major crisis by the end of the year. We want to treat it as an emergency now before that explosion happens.”

Mr Finlay said many of the children of families left homeless were living in overcrowded places with nowhere to play. More than 1,350 parents and children are without their own home in Dublin.

“In some of the accommodation that’s available, children will see violence, abuse and drug use.

“We’re very worried for children in those circumstances. Children not getting the right education and emotional development are very much at risk of not making it in school and then very much at risk of being a drain and threat on their neighbourhood in the future.”

He called on the Government to act quickly to address rising rents, discrimination in the private rental sector, inappropriateness of emergency accommodation and lack of social housing.

“The lack of investment in social housing in recent years, cuts to rent supplement and the rising cost of renting in the private market are creating a perfect storm for homelessness. We should have been able to predict and prevent this,” he said.

Emma Jane Nulty, Barnardos’ project leader, said the charity was seeing an “escalating” number of cases of families being evicted  from their rented accommodation and left homeless daily.

“Absolutely there’s a crises and it's snowballing,” she said.


“We work with families who have ended up living in a hotel or B&B for up to a year. Children are witnessing violence and drug use in some of these places. They’re scared because they’re living in cramped conditions surrounded by adults they don’t know.”

Ms Nulty said in some cases the housing issues were so severe they had raised child welfare issues due to unsafe accommodation or the impact on parents.


“It’s awful to see because you know it’s costing everyone more, both in terms of the impact it’s having on children and parents and the financial cost to the State,” she said.


“What’s happening now is there is nowhere for them to go. No options available. No social housing and very limited private rented accommodation. The Government needs ot see the reality of what’s happening.”

One nine-year-old child told a project worker with the charity "“I had to move school. I miss my old friends. I don’t like where I am. It’s scary. It’s not fun and I can’t play outside. I want to go home.”