| 18.5°C Belfast

18 is the most common age to become homeless, research finds

Family circumstances is commonly the reason cited for homelessness.

Close

A homeless man begs in a lane near Grafton Street (Brian Lawless/PA)

A homeless man begs in a lane near Grafton Street (Brian Lawless/PA)

A homeless man begs in a lane near Grafton Street (Brian Lawless/PA)

The most common age at which young people first experience homelessness is 18, research has revealed.

The study, by Focus Ireland, shows half of 18-year-olds had lived in the parental home or the home of another family member immediately before becoming homeless.

More than half of the young people cited family circumstances as the primary reason for their homelessness.

The report, entitled Youth Homelessness In The Dublin Region, was carried out by Cliodhna Bairead and Professor Michelle Norris who used data from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE).

Prof Stephen Gaetz, one of the architects and leaders of the Canadian youth homelessness strategy, said: “The high number of young people who became homeless by leaving their family homes shortly after becoming adults is a shocking finding, but it is also ground for optimism.

“In many cases, the young person’s departure from the family home into homelessness results from relationship breakdowns which can be overcome through skilled mediation.

“Of course, there are some cases, such as abuse or violence, where remaining in the family home is not an option, but the family mediation services run by Focus Ireland and funded by Tusla have proven effective in preventing youth homelessness.

“If they were expanded and developed in other cities they could make a real impact on youth homelessness.”

The report also found that for over a quarter of the young people, homelessness was a short-term experience, with almost two thirds experiencing a number of short periods of homelessness.

It tells us that it is blighting the lives of far too many young people, but it also tells us that this is a problem well within our capacities to resolve. Mike Allen

Almost one in ten of the young people becoming homeless as a young person turned into an experience of chronic homelessness.

Mike Allen, director of advocacy in Focus Ireland, said: “This is very timely report coming just as the new Government has committed to a Youth Homelessness Strategy.

“The report gives us a good insight into the scale of the youth homeless problem in Dublin.

“It tells us that it is blighting the lives of far too many young people, but it also tells us that this is a problem well within our capacities to resolve.

“We look forward to working with the new Government to put in place the measures which can make this problem a thing of the past.”

The findings also show that 25% of the young people reported having slept rough at some time with a similar level of rough sleeping among women and men.

Mr Allen added: “While it is important to understand the young people are not necessarily sleeping rough on a regular basis, sleeping rough even for one night is an extremely risky thing to do, and is associated with a higher level of risk for young people and women.

“So a finding that 25% of young men and women have experienced rough sleeping is a grave cause for concern, particularly in city which has increased the number of emergency beds 50% over the period covered by the report.”

While young men make up the majority of young homeless adults, women who become homeless at 19 are the more likely to have most recently lived in the family home.

PA