Press release – National One Parent Family Alliance
75% of families becoming homeless since eviction ban ended are headed by one parent
National Alliance of NGOs calls for urgent action on growing crisis among one-parent families.
Analysing the latest homeless figures from the Department of Housing (published October 2023), the National One Parent Family Alliance (NOPFA) finds that 75%, or three out of every four families entering homelessness since the eviction ban was lifted are one parent families.
The Alliance* says the disproportionate impact of the homelessness crisis on one parent families must not go unnoticed and requires urgent attention across Government departments.
They are calling on Government to establish a dedicated task force to address this crisis and prevent the further flow of one parent families into homelessness. NOPFA says this could be formed under the remit of the Department of Housing or through the new Child Poverty Unit in the Department of An Taoiseach, which has identified family homelessness as one of its five key priorities.
Key measures across social protection, rent arrears, Housing Assistance Payment top-ups, treatment of mortgage and rent payments in the assessment of means, and the supply of social and affordable housing are all needed, says the Alliance.
Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family and chair of the National One Parent Family Alliance says: “The numbers are staggering; since the eviction ban ended, there has been a surge in homelessness, with 253 more families now in dire need of shelter. Even more concerning, 191 of these families are one parent families, accounting for the majority of this surge. It is important to note that these statistics only include families accessing emergency accommodation, suggesting that the true extent of homelessness among one parent families may be even more concealed. Many of these families are grappling with the cost of living crisis, high poverty rates and deprivation, causing them to return to their original family homes for support. We know that the solutions to this crisis do not lie with one Department. With better coordination and a sustained focus on the needs of one parent families, it is possible to reverse this trend and prevent the trauma of homelessness for parents and children.”
Tricia Keilthy, Head of Social Justice with the Society of St Vincent de Paul said: “There are real measures that could prevent more one parent families from entering homelessness and we need them implemented. We are pleased to see legislation being introduced to exclude maintenance payments from social welfare assessments. Still, we know for families experiencing separation, the inclusion of mortgage and rent payments in assessments often puts them at risk of homelessness and housing precarity. Fundamentally, we need to see increased supply of social and affordable homes, but in the interim, a much greater emphasis on homeless prevention is needed. With so many one parent families living in the private rented sector and vulnerable to rent increases, we needed to see a dedicated homeless prevention fund in Budget 2024.”
Suzanne Connolly, Chief Executive Barnardos, said: “It is alarming that children in one parent families are so disproportionately impacted by homelessness. The fact that this has only increased further since the end of the eviction ban shows a need for Government to take further action to tackle the issue. Lone parents we support are regularly evicted from their homes, often with multiple young children, or forced to move back in with their own parents. Children are forced to experience the trauma, often long lasting, of being uprooted from their homes, schools and friends. We know that childhood lasts a lifetime. The longer a child is homeless and living in poor and unsuitable accommodation, the more negative an impact it has on their future wellbeing and development.”
These figures sit within the wider context of child and family homelessness. Today, the overall number of children experiencing homelessness reached an all-time high of 3904, surpassing the previous record set in 2019. NOPFA says a particularly distressing aspect of this situation is the fact that the 2019 record included 18-year-olds and older as children, whereas they are now counted as adults.
NOPFA urges immediate action to address this pressing issue, protect one parent families from homelessness and ensure the well-being ofchildren. With a coordinated effort between organisations like NOPFA and the Government, we can provide a brighter future for one parent families in our nation.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Karen Kiernan: 086 850 9191 or 01 662 9212
Tricia Keilthy: 086 410 9302
Note to editors:
*The National One Parent Family Alliance comprises national organisations including Barnardos, One Family, Family Resource Centre National Forum, FLAC Focus Ireland, National Women’s Council, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, SPARK, and Treoir. This Alliance was established in 2020 around a shared concern about the high levels of poverty experienced by lone parents and their children.