Youth Homelessness in Ireland

The number of young people experiencing homelessness has increased by over 90% in the past three years. In June 2017, the Department of Housing Planning, Community and Local Government (DHPCLG) reported that 802 young people aged 18-24 were ‘officially’ homeless (i.e. living in emergency accommodation funded through Section 10 of the Housing Act), comprising over 16.5% of the adults who were homeless in Ireland. This compares to a figure of 471 only two years earlier, with a high percentage of the increase in the Dublin region.
There is little reliable information about young people who are ‘officially homeless’. While they can be analysed into three broad groupings, there is no information about the size or dynamic of each group:

  • Young people who grew up in the care system, and who are in receipt of full welfare payments but unable to secure accommodation.
  • Young people with limited or no links to the care system and who are on reduced rate welfare payments.
  • Young people who are parents and are accommodated as the parent in a ‘homeless family’.

Even less is known about young people who are not included in the official figures but are considered homeless under the internationally recognized ETHOS typology1 (the hidden homeless; those sofa-surfing, squatting etc.). International evidence suggests that a higher proportion of homeless young people are likely to be ‘unofficially homelessness’ than is the case for older homeless people2. While the Coalition recognizes the DHPCLG figure to be an accurate measure of the numbers living in state-funded homeless accommodation, the Coalition is concerned with ending all manifestations of youth homelessness.

While the Coalition is primarily concerned with the experience of homelessness among young adults (18-25), it is recognized that the experiences of older minors who are ‘out-of-home’ or in unsustainable home environments plays a critical role in creating the conditions for young adult homelessness. For this reason the policies and services for older minors are part of the Coalition’s concerns.

1. bit.ly/ETHOStypology, ETHOS categories 6.3, 8.1 and 8.2 apply in particular

2. Quilgars, D., Johnsen, S. and Pleace, N. (2008) Youth Homelessness in the UK: A Decade of Progress? (York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation).