The cause of homelessness
Sir, – Your report “Family rifts main cause of homeless crisis” (Home News, December 15th) is misleading about the real causes of rising family homelessness. The Dublin Regional Homelessness Executive (DRHE) study on which it is based looks only at the last place where families stayed immediately before entering homeless services, and not at the series of events that left them with nowhere to live.
The DRHE study itself acknowledges this limitation and that pathways into homelessness are more complex than their methodology can reveal. Unfortunately the study does not reference highly regarded research by Focus Ireland (Insights into Family Homelessness) which looks at the last four places that families stayed before becoming homeless. This shows that a large majority of homeless families had their last home in the private rented sector and left it due to eviction or rising rent.
A large number then stayed with wider family. These temporary and insecure arrangements broke down over time and they presented as homeless to the local council. So “relationship breakdown” was the reason for leaving their most recent accommodation, but eviction from private rented accommodation is the real cause of their homelessness.
This is important because suggesting family homelessness results from “rifts” implies that they are to blame for their own problems, and draws attention away from our failure to provide affordable, secure homes. If we misunderstand the causes of the problem we will not apply the appropriate solutions – which include not only building more social and affordable homes, but also greater security for private tenants.
Since the DRHE study is explicit about its limitations, it is disappointing that it was circulated to councillors and given such attention without reference to the more rigorous research which gives a more accurate picture of the crisis we are facing. – Yours, etc,
Director of Advocacy,
Focus Irelan, Dublin 8.