Homelessness in Ireland – still an issue these days

Pre-University Paper, 2020

18 Pages, Grade: 1,33




1. Introduction

2. General Information about Homelessness
2.1. Definition of Homelessness
2.2. Facts about Homelessness in Ireland

3. Reasons for Homelessness in Ireland

4. Different Types of Homelessness in Ireland
4.1. Life in Hotel Rooms
4.2. Life on the Street

5. Measures Against Homelessness
5.1. Measures Implemented by the Irish Government
5.2. General Measures Against Homelessness

6. Ireland's Homelessness Compared to Other European Countries

7. Homelessness in Ireland During Corona Crisis

8. Conclusion

9. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Ireland is one of the most globalized countries in the world. Despite this economic wealth, the number of people being homeless in Ireland has not decreased, the exact opposite is the case: The rate of homelessness "[...] is now greater than at any stage in the country’s history since the Great Famine.”1 However, the law explaining the definition of homelessness was only enacted in 1988, which is why there are no official numbers before that time.2

Nevertheless, in the last four years, the amount of homeless people increased by 35%, compared to 2016. As far as Dublin is concerned, there were estimated 1,200 homeless persons in 19843, whereas in 2017 the number has risen to 5,009.4 Therefore, homelessness in Ireland is becoming a more serious problem. That being the case, this term paper will inform about homelessness in Ireland, which is still an issue these days.

2. General Information about Homelessness

2.1. Definition of Homelessness

The legal definition of homelessness in Ireland was announced as part of the Housing Act of 1988, in which it is stated that a person is considered homeless when he does not have a permanent home at his disposal and is therefore living on the street or in an institution such as an emergency accommodation, a night shelter or a county home.5 Crisply put, "homelessness in Ireland [...] incorporates both rough sleepers and people living in interim accommodation.”6

Consequently, homeless people have neither a fixed address nor private space, which is why homelessness always means living in precariousness.

In addition to the official definition of homelessness, being without a home implies marginalization as well as exclusion from society. The majority of individuals presenting as homeless is treated as outsiders.7 Therefore, they have hardly any political power to stand up for their rights when it comes to housing.8

2.2. Facts about Homelessness in Ireland

Due to Ireland’s history of repression, poverty, famine, expulsion, indigence, and political conflicts homelessness has spread widely on the Emerald Isle.9 It is estimated that 8,702 people are currently homeless, 6,082 of whom are adults and 2,620 children.10

However, the exact number of homeless individuals cannot be measured, due to so- called "hidden homeless”.11 Those include prisoners without a permanent home or individuals staying in hospitals12 or in domestic violence refuge accommodation and are not represented in given numbers.13

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1, Source: https://www.focusireland.ie/resource-hub/latest-figures-homelessness-ireland/

Besides, the diagram (Figure 1) presenting the number of the homeless between July 2014 and June 2020 shows that the amount of homeless individuals has tripled between 2014 and 2018.14 While in 2014 3,258 persons did not dispose of a home, in 2018 there were 9,891.15 The diagram also shows a clear decrease in homelessness within the last months, which can be explained by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Further information on the impact the pandemic had on homelessness in Ireland will be presented in another chapter of this paper.

In Ireland, there is "high visibility”16 of homelessness in urban regions, where beneficial organizations are better represented than in rural areas which is the reason for an increasing number of people without a home moving to cities. Consequently, homelessness in urban areas has grown greatly. Dublin, presently the most affected region with 73% of total homelessness17, has experienced a strong growth of 162% between 1991 and 2002.18

3. Reasons for Homelessness in Ireland

The reasons for homelessness in Ireland differ in personal problems as well as political matters. Social issues include unstable health, alcoholism or drug use, poverty, and mental disorders. Furthermore, an unstable childhood due to family problems or matrimonial conflicts, limited education, unemployment, and health or physical impairment can be reasons for becoming homeless. Most of the individuals without a permanent home are affected by a combination of these problems.19 However, the Irish government is also responsible for the high number of homelessness. The main problem in Irish politics is the broken housing system20, which leads to rising rents and more expensive houses.21

As a result, many people cannot afford proper accommodation anymore.

4. Different Types of Homelessness in Ireland

4.1 Life in Hotel Rooms

22Normally, hotels are considered sites of rest associated with a beautiful vacation. Nonetheless, they "become sites of rupture when used as temporary accommodation [...]”22 23 by families who have lost their home due to the housing crisis in Ireland. The expensive private rented sector and insufficient supply of social housing lead to the raised number of hotels being used as a provisional place to live.

In October 2018, 850 families including 1,926 children were living in hotel rooms. While hotels are usually an opportunity to switch off from daily life, for families presenting as homeless, they mean a restriction on the performance of daily duties. Moreover, the conditions for homeless families living in hotel rooms are unideal.

For example, they are not allowed to use the hotels’ household appliances such as a washing machine or a cooker, which is why many live on fast-food and take-away meals. In turn, this causes malnutrition, as well as high costs regarding food or laundrette. Additionally, children and toddlers show a dysfunctional development like problems with crawling or walking because of the limited space in the hotel room.

But not only children suffer from the bad conditions in the hotel rooms. It has been proved that life in hotels for homeless adults has a negative impact on both physical and mental health, too. Most grown-ups have to give up their job in order to take care about their children having problems with their development. They also exhibit an unstable mental health because the only thing they can think of is finding a place where they can move to next. It is also important to note that homeless families in hotels are excluded and humiliated by the hoteliers. More specifically, they are, among other things, forced to use a separate door to other hotel guests. Instead of the main door, they have to use the "homeless door.”24

Besides, it is forbidden for them to take breakfast to their room, although this would make them feel more comfortable. The marginalization by the hoteliers remind homeless families of not belonging in such areas, as they are treated as if they are less worth than the "real” hotel guests. Hotels, on the other hand, benefit from homelessness: They are paid by local authorities for hosting homeless people and providing secure homes.

4.2. Life on the Street

Although the minority of Irish homeless people is sleeping rough, which means spending the night in the open, they attract the population’s attention the most. When begging on the street or sleeping in public places they are clearly visible to others. It is very difficult to count the people sleeping on the street because they are constantly changing their roost, nevertheless, there have been 128 individuals sleeping rough on a single night in April 2019 in Dublin.25 The conditions of living on the street are much more challenging than being hosted in emergency accommodations. For instance, they suffer from malnutrition, respiratory ailments, and addiction to drugs or alcohol.26 Furthermore, in winter, they are exposed to cold, not rarely sub-zero temperatures. The danger of being robbed or attacked by strangers can also be added to all this.27


1 Cormac Fitzgerald, “FactCheck: Are there more homeless people in Ireland now than at any time since the Famine?” (2017), 4 November 2020 <https://www.thejoumal.ie/fact-check-homeless- 3370182-May2017/>.

2 Fitzgerald.

3 Cf. Kevin C. Kearns, Homelessness in Dublin: An Irish Urban Disorder (Malden, Massachusetts: Wiley, 1984) 217.

4 Marie O’Halloran, "Young children largest homeless age group, censures figures show” (2020), 4 November 2020 <https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/young-children-largest- homeless-age-group-census-figures-show-1.3182975>.

5 Brian Nolan and Bertrand Maitre, "A SOCIAL PORTRAIT OF COMMUNITIES IN IRELAND” (2008): 71,4 November 2020 <http://www.socialinclusion.ie/publications/documents/SocialPortraitOfCommunities.pdf>.

6 Mel Nowicki, Katherine Brickell, and Ella Harris, The hotelisation of the housing crisis: Experiences of family homelessness in Dublin hotels (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2019) 314.

7 Cf. Christoph Ehland, Resistance and the city: negotiating urban identities (Leiden, Boston, 2018) 116, 117, 127.

8 Cf. Tim Blackman, Homelessness and Housing in Northern Ireland: An Assessment (Dublin: Administration, 1988) 242.

9 Cf. Kearns 219.

10 ’’Number of people who are homeless and relying on emergency homeless accommodation” (2020), 4 November 2020 <https://www.focusireland.ie/resource-hub/latest-figures-homelessness-ireland/>.

11 "Green Party Housing & Homelessness Policy” (2015): 33, 4 November 2020 <https://www.greenparty.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Green-Party-Housing-Homelessness-Policy- 2016.pdf>.

12 "Green Party Housing & Homelessness Policy” 33.

13 Cf. Eoin O Broin, "What is the true level of homelessness?” (2017): 3-4, 4 November 2020 <https://www.sinnfein.ie/files/2018/True_Level_of_Homelessness_doc.pdf>.

14 Rory Carroll, "Dublin's homelessness crisis jars with narrative of Irish economic boom” (2018), 4 November 2020 <https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/sep/05/dublin-homelessness-crisis-jars- with-narrative-of-irish-economic-boom>.

15 Cf. Nowicki, Brickell, and Harris 314.

16 Ehland 116.

17 Cf. O'Halloran.

18 Cf. Eoin O'Sullivan, WELFARE REGIMES, HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (London: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group, 2004) 334.

19 Cf. Kearns 217-220.

20 Carroll.

21 Cf. Nowicki, Brickell, and Harris 314, 319.

22 The whole information of this chapter (4.1.) refers to: Cf. Nowicki, Brickell, and Harris 313-322.

23 Nowicki, Brickell, and Harris 313.

24 Nowicki, Brickell, and Harris 321.

25 Cormac Fitzgerald, "There are now over 10,300 people homeless in Ireland, a new record high” (2019), 4 November 2020 <https://www.thejournal.ie/homeless-figures-7-4613271-Apr2019/>.

26 Cf. Kearns 228.

27 "Sleeping rough in Ireland” (2016), 4 November 2020 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4DwOKjz_9I>.

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Homelessness in Ireland – still an issue these days
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Seminararbeit zum Thema "Homelessness in Ireland - still an issue these days" Inhalt: General Information, Reasons, Life on the Street and in Hotel Rooms, Measures, Homelessness in Other European Countries, Homelessness During Corona Crisis
homelessness, ireland
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Anonymous, 2020, Homelessness in Ireland – still an issue these days, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1007920


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