3826 children homeless – school holidays a nightmare for Hotel families
Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan, speaking on Dáil statements on child homelessness reacted to the latest figures for May, saying it is a national scandal that 3,826 children are homeless, and that the school holidays present a nightmare scenario for hotel families.
Deputy O’Sullivan said:
“Homeless figures for May, just released, are truly shocking showing an increase again in the number of adults, families and children without a home. The most shocking is the increase in homeless dependents from 3,689 to 3,826 in one month, that is 137 newly-homeless children. It cries out for action.
“Today and tomorrow primary school children will be waving good-bye to their teachers and classrooms and heading home for the holidays. They’ll be looking forward to a summer of fun at home, in the neighbourhood and, maybe, a week or two away on a holiday.
“If you are one of the 3,826 children in homeless services it is a very different prospect. You haven’t a permanent home, you haven’t neighbouring children to play with, you are probably sharing one or two rooms with the rest of your family, with no room to play, nowhere to go out and kick a ball or ride a bike.
“We should not leave the Dáil this summer until:
1. A programme of support for families in homeless services is put in place for the school holidays, and;
2. There is a limit set on the length of time a child can be left living in a hotel.
“Rebuilding Ireland promised to end the use of hotels for families to live in, except for short-term emergencies. Two years later, that promise is still unfulfilled. In fact, the number of children who are homeless went up by 36% from April 2017 to April 2018.
“We can’t talk this away. It needs focus, action, a plan and a time limit.
“In the short term these families need extra supports so that they can have normal free time over the holidays; they need to be prioritised for housing and they need to be protected in law.
“I introduced the Housing (Homeless Families) Bill to the Dáil in July of last year and it passed 2nd stage with full support. It responds to the Rights of the Child that were inserted into the Constitution by the people in 2012 by imposing a legal obligation on housing authorities to act in the best interest of the child when his or her family becomes homeless. I am asking the Government and the Committee to make the time to progress that Bill.
“Thousands of children are going on their school holidays back to a hotel room and an insecure future. Their lives can only be changed for the better if their needs are prioritised. That requires firm commitments, real supports and time limits on how long they can remain homeless.”