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Homelessness is a real children’s issue – Ombudsman for Children

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs today (Wednesday) to discuss the OCO’s No Place Like Home report and how homelessness is affecting children.

Speaking following his appearance before the Committee Niall said:

“Last week I appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Housing discussing homelessness and I am delighted this week to get the opportunity to appear before the Committee on Children and Youth Affairs on the same issue.

“Homelessness is now a real children’s issue. There are more than 3,700 children living in emergency accommodation, they are in Family Hubs, in hotels and B&Bs. These children do not have a stable living situation and there is absolutely no doubt that this experience will have a long-lasting impact on their development and on their future.

“It is no longer acceptable to consider homelessness as the problem of the Minister for Housing and the local authorities. A whole of Government approach is necessary to address homelessness and to support children experiencing homelessness.

“Speaking to the Committee today I outlined to them the findings from our No Place Like Home Report, a consultation with children living in Family Hubs. We asked children what they liked, what they found challenging and what they would change about Family Hubs.

“While children did note some positives including the opportunity to make friends, their accounts highlight the negative impact that living in this type of environment is having on family life, the lack of privacy, the struggle to get sleep, the difficulty to study, the lack of opportunity to play and problems maintaining relationships with family and friends.

“One of the most concerning features of the perspectives shared by children is the consistency with which they referenced feeling ashamed about being homeless and living in a Family Hub.

“Some of the key areas for change highlighted in No Place Like Home were the need for an independent, formal evaluation of the suitability of Family Hubs, a call for the implementation of the National Quality Standards Framework for Homeless Services and progression of the discussion on the Constitutional Right to Housing.

“I am deeply concerned about the immediate and longer-term impact that the trauma of homelessness has on children – on their dignity, self-worth, wellbeing and rights. The right to adequate housing is about “the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity”, it is a fundamental human right that we must ensure all children in Ireland can enjoy.”