Fifteen babies ‘born to homeless mothers’ last year

Over 10,330 destitute in the Republic, according to latest Government figures

Some 513 families availed of Depaul’s services, an increase of 8% on the previous year, while the number of children availing of the service increased by 13%.

Fifteen babies were born to homeless mothers in emergency accommodation last year while the number of people stuck in homelessness rose by nearly 20 per cent, data from a cross-Border homeless charity shows.

More than 4,300 people, including 881 children, were supported by the Depaul homelessness charity in 2018, according to the latest annual report from the organisation. Depaul also warns of a “huge growth in the homeless population” North and South of the Border.

Some 513 families availed of Depaul’s services, a rise of 8 per cent on the previous year, while the number of children availing of the service increased by 13 per cent.

A total of 10,338 people are without a home in the Republic of Ireland, according to the latest Government figures. In Northern Ireland, 11,877 households were recognised as homeless between 2017-18, according to the Department of Communities’ housing statistics.

Depaul warned of an 18 per cent decline in move-ons from its services, leaving more people trapped in homelessness. It also recorded the birth of 15 babies to women without a home in 2018.

“It is incredibly frustrating when you have helped people to a point where they are ready to live independently only to find they have nowhere to go,” said Depaul chief executive David Carroll ahead of the report’s launch. “The lack of housing supply is stymieing people’s ability to move on from homelessness.”

The study also highlights a significant increase in single destitute people – numbers rose from 1,750 in 2014 to 4,060, up 132 per cent. Those caught in homelessness are far more likely to suffer health problems, with people in their 50s contracting illnesses more common among those in their 80s, according to the charity’s health nurse.

The charity supported 87 adults and 39 children from migrant families in 2018 and helped 48 people find accommodation after leaving the direct provision system.

Research by Depaul found nearly nine out of 10 people accessing emergency accommodation were “first time homeless” while 60 per cent were men.

More than 80 per cent of people in emergency accommodation sourced by Depaul were male. With the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Dublin standing at more than €1,500 – far above the €990 housing assistance payment – the main mechanism being used to house single people is not working, notes the report.

It also warns of a “growing drug problem” and a huge rise in people addicted to two or more types of drug. Suspected overdoses among people availing of Depaul services increased by more than 80 per cent last year, with 127 cases. Some 60 people were saved through the administration of Naxolone, a life-saving antidote which reverses the effects of an overdose, notes the report.

‘More health interventions’

There has also been a marked rise in the use of crack cocaine and prescription drugs such as Pregablin (Lyrica) and benzodiazepines, said Depaul director of services Dermot Murphy.

“The reality is we need to be providing more health interventions and giving people the platform to change their drug consumption,” said Mr Murphy. “This means providing more recovery-orientated services and safe-injection facilities, which we believe will ultimately encourage people to engage with services and get the support they require.”

The report, which details the charity’s work on both sides of the Border, notes that the lack of government presence in Northern Ireland has “exacerbated” homelessness.

The group has also advocated for an end to the use of one-night-only accommodation, saying the best way to support people is provide 24-hour access to accommodation. The charity has continued to endorse the Housing First model as a means of helping people out of homelessness.

Source: Irish Times