On Saturday the 9th of March, I attended the #Homes4All housing demo in Dublin city centre. I chose to go to this event, the day after International Women’s Day, because I feel strongly that the current housing and homeless crisis is disproportionately affecting women, in particular single mothers.
The Housing and Homeless Coalition said that there has been 158% increase in the number of homeless women and that women are more likely to experience hidden homelessness. The Minister himself has previously admitted that women in domestic violence refuges aren’t counted in the official housing statistics by the Department so we know that the true homeless figures are far higher than around 10,000.
Of the 6,363 homeless adults during the last week of January, 2,619 of those were female. Of the 1,614 homeless families during that same week, 969 of these were headed by a single parent (usually a woman).
I have worked in the homeless sector, in supported housing and also with ex-offenders leaving prison. A decade ago it was difficult for people to be housed but I have seen the real difference supported tenancies can make.
Unless we turn out in large numbers there will be no change; housing delivery will continue at a snail’s pace and rental prices will continue to soar, pushing more people into homelessness and/or overcrowded accommodation.
I think it is shameful that we have around 4,000 homeless children in a country with so many vacant homes. The next big rally is on May 11th and we now also have the opportunity to make housing a local election issue – what are your local council candidates going to do to deliver on affordable homes for people? Ask them when they come knocking! I certainly will (I’ll also be asking how they voted in the referendum)!