MEASURES TO END YOUTH HOMELESSNESS
NYCI as part of the Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness calls on Government to develop and implement measures to tackle youth homelessness.
The number of young adults becoming homeless in Ireland has more than doubled in the last four years. Of all ages, they are most vulnerable, least likely to know where they can get help or present to services and most likely to bunk in with friends and extended family, live in other precarious situations or sleep rough. As such they are not included in official figures. They are our hidden homeless – and not just hidden – they are also forgotten. Barely mentioned in Government policy or strategy, there is no provision for addressing their very particular needs and circumstances.
Young adults are at a crucial point in their emotional, cognitive and social development, transitioning from adolescence to adulthood and experiences at this stage have lifelong impacts. To move successfully to adulthood, they need understanding, support, space and structure. Left to their own devices, those out of home will flounder and face a future of marginalisation, potentially leading to a lifetime of homelessness but with the right interventions their needs can be addressed, they can move out of homelessness and into productive independent adulthood.
Young adults out of home are in crisis, without experience of independent living and limited resilience.
They have a range of needs and issues, stemming from adverse childhood experiences, which include poor mental health, behavioural problems, problematic drug or alcohol use and often all in combination. Some are parents and many of them separated from their children because of their situation. Those leaving State care or detention, from migrant or ethnic groups or who identify as LGBTQ are disproportionately represented.
When their precarious living situations breakdown and they approach homeless services the response is placement in emergency accommodation for adults where they are at risk of intimidation, exploitation and exposure to risky behaviours. Once homeless, their chances of getting out is lower than other age groups, particularly if they are single. Housing options are very limited – they have no hope of social housing and their youth makes them unattractive to private landlords. Even if they can source accommodation, their reduced entitlement to just half the rate of Job Seekers’ Allowance, together with their undeveloped independent living skills can make it untenable.
A situation that potentially consigns young people to a lifetime of homelessness is not acceptable.
The Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness brings together key charities in housing, homeless, children and youth services to chart a course of action which will give those who are homeless now the chance they deserve to become independent adults and will prevent homelessness in the future.
The Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness will be launching a policy document in early 2019 highlighting measures which Government can take to address and end youth homelessness.