Women and homelessness

 

Sir, – Nollaig na mBan, celebrated on January 6th each year, is an old Irish tradition, originally created as a day where women got together for a much-needed rest after the stress of the Christmas season.

For some women, many of whom are mothers of the 3,333 children in emergency accommodation across the country, there is no respite. Every moment of everyday is focused on finding a place they can call home which is safe, secure, affordable and appropriate to their needs. They are not “gaming the system”.

Women make up a far higher percentage of the homeless population in Ireland compared to other European countries, with 42 per cent of people who are homeless in Ireland being women, rising to 47 per cent in Dublin. Of the households that we work with, 44 per cent are headed by lone parents, most of whom are women. Many are young (in their 20s or 30s), with one or two children and are parenting alone; a majority became homeless following the loss of private rented housing.

The struggle to keep a roof over a family is greater for women, given that on average, women are paid 14 per cent less than men and pay differences are widening. We believe that greater efforts need to be made in keeping women and their families in their homes. According to Department of Housing figures, of the estimated expenditure on homelessness in 2017, 76 per cent of the money will be spent on emergency accommodation. But less than 10 per cent of funding will be used for prevention services.

Threshold has been working at the forefront of housing for 40 years, campaigning for the rights of tenants and working to end homelessness. In less than two years, we have successfully helped prevent 10,000 families and individuals from being homeless. We cannot let another year go by without addressing the reality that the most vulnerable people are housed, and will continue to be housed for the foreseeable future, in a rental sector that is not fit for purpose. In 2018 we will continue our work by challenging illegal rent reviews, campaigning for standards in rented accommodation and calling for greater security of tenure for all those renting. – Yours, etc,

AIDEEN HAYDEN,

Chairwoman,

Threshold,

Stoneybatter,

Dublin 7.