O’Sullivan introduces Homeless Families Bill
Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, is today introducing legislation into the Dáil that aims to ensure the best interests of homeless children are recognised by Local Authorities in an emergency situation.
The Housing (Homeless Families) Bill 2017 would require Local Authorities to recognise the rights of a child in a family unit when applying for accommodation or other assistance, which are currently not explicitly recognised under the Housing Acts.
It comes as new research by Trinity College has found that single mothers in their 20s or 30s account for nearly two thirds of those that head up homeless family households across Ireland.
Deputy O’Sullivan said:
“Earlier this summer we were all shocked to read about the 12 families with 30 children between them who were forced to sleep in a public park, as they couldn’t be accommodated by homeless services in Dublin.
“These children had no rights to protection, safety, or a roof over their heads, except as dependents of their parents, even though the rights of the child have been written into the Constitution. There is also no statutory recognition of the needs of a homeless family as a family unit.
“Labour’s Homeless Families Bill that I am introducing into the Dáil today aims to change that, by requiring housing authorities to regard the best interests of the child as paramount and to protect and assist families, including by providing them with safe accommodation.
“Just today we see from a study by Trinity College that 42% of homeless adults are women, many of whom have dependent children and are lone-parent households. It is clear from the research that there aren’t enough services to cater for the needs of those families.
“This underlines all the more the need for specific protection for the children, as well as for their mothers.
“Homeless charities, including Focus Ireland, have told us that it is important that the law is strengthened to support families in crisis situations.
“It will also ensure that there is a holistic response to support the needs of families in hotels and hubs with, not just a roof over their heads, but with the wider requirement to support and encourage the effective functioning of families and the development, welfare and protection of children within the family home.”