Thousands of children will bear the psychological scars of homelessness

18 April 2019

Reacting to the damning report from the Ombudsman for Children on ‘Family Hub’ Accommodation for Homeless Families, Labour’s Housing spokesperson,  Jan O’Sullivan TD, called on the Government to commit to a timeline and resources to implement the recommendations of the Ombudsman for Children.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“The 3,784 children currently experiencing homelessness are at the centre of this report. They expressed feelings of shame, guilt and anger for circumstances that are totally outside of their control. There will be literally thousands of children in the next generation bearing the psychological scars of homelessness, as the number of families affected continues to rise faster than others can leave this traumatic experience.

“Family hubs were designed to be temporary accommodation for families awaiting a permanent council tenancy. Instead, in many cases, they have put families into a seemingly endless limbo, due to the lack of social housing becoming available.

“The central issue is how we treat people in this country when they are at their most vulnerable. Family hubs were meant to better than hotels and B&Bs, because at least they provide cooking and laundry facilities, and play space for children. But they still fall far beneath the standards of a decent home. Most families and children are sharing a single room, with a total lack of privacy and not enough space for children to play indoors or even to do their homework. Visitors and pets are forbidden. The report describes one-room dwellings and punitive restrictions on daily life, which are closer to 19th Century poor houses than 21st social services.

“The Ombudsman for Children has called for a constitutional right to housing and stronger legislation, timelines for eliminating the remaining use of B&Bs and hotels for families, higher standards to be enforced in family hubs, more transparent data about families experiencing homelessness, better handling of complaints, and the implementation of action to support the dignity of children who are homeless alongside action to combat stigma. Labour supports all of these recommendations, and we pledge our willingness to implement them in full.

“As an early show of good faith, Fine Gael should also stop delaying Labour’s Housing (Homeless Families) Bill 2017, which is stuck waiting for a money message from Government to allow it to proceed.”

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