Barnardos in homelessness warning
Several thousand youngsters face being homeless by the end of the year if the Government does not step in immediately and ease the housing crisis, a leading children's charity has said.
Barnardos said children are growing up in fear, uncertainty and isolation as rising rents, discrimination by landlords, inappropriate emergency accommodation and a serious lack of social housing combine to create a perfect storm of homelessness.
The crisis has left 1,350 parents and children in Dublin without a home of their own today.
Charity chief Fergus Finlay said hundreds of families are being forced into tenement type conditions as a real life consequence of austerity.
And he called for the Government to step in and commandeer vacant hotels in Dublin and open them up for emergency accommodation.
"I don't believe there should be a single room left vacant," he said.
Barnardos released some details of families with children who are bearing the brunt of the crisis.
They included Aoife, a mother with no addiction issues, and her four-year-old son who were left homeless after landlords refused to house her using rent allowance.
She had left the home she shared with her mother and her five children because of severe overcrowding, conflict and discord in the home.
Another was a mother-of-six who last year left the family home after suffering domestic violence.
Barnardos said that after eight months in a refuge she could not get private rented accommodation and returned to the family home where she had been abused.
Fr Peter McVerry, who has worked with homeless people in Dublin for decades, yesterday said the crisis is becoming a tsunami, and the worst he has seen.
Mr Finlay backed his warning, adding that Ireland is witnessing the beginning of an explosion of homelessness.
He said hundreds of children are now living in absolutely unsuitable conditions, in fear and anxiety, in some cases miles away from relatives and family support.
Mr Finlay said they are often witness to drug and alcohol problems and regular violence in emergency accommodation.
"We should have been able to predict and prevent this, indeed plenty of people have been shouting about it for a long time. It's about time Government started really listening," Mr Finlay said.
The Government committed last year to ending homelessness by 2016.
Meanwhile, 127 people are sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin, the latest survey has found.
However, the national housing lists tell a more worrying story in the capital.
The biggest increase has been in the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, which had 4,546 people on the housing list last week.
South Dublin County Council now has 7,770 on its waiting list.
The most recent figures from Dublin City Council were from last May when 16,171 people were seeking homes.