Hidden Homelessness: What's the problem?

Barnardos. (2018). Hidden Homelessness: What's the problem? https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/116
The housing crisis engulfing the country has been steadily expanding over a number of years. As time has gone on, Government initiatives aimed at tackling the crisis have failed to stem the tide of children into homelessness, curb rent increases or build enough social housing. Living in emergency accommodation is a situation no child should ever find themselves in. Barnardos campaigns nationally to ensure no child is lost to homelessness and works locally with families living in emergency accommodation. There has rightly been much media coverage of the worsening crisis and public outcry at the ever increasing child homelessness figures (3,646 at time of writing1); yet there are thousands more children who are homeless but go largely unnoticed. These children are the hidden homeless. They have no home of their own but are not counted by Government and don’t qualify for many support services. The hidden homeless are temporarily accommodated (usually with friends or family) but their living situation is precarious and unsustainable.2 Hidden homelessness is most frequently characterised by overcrowded accommodation which is unsuitable for children. Overcrowding has increased in recent years. Census 2016 showed a 28% rise in the number of households with more people than rooms as well as an increase in the number of persons per household, particularly in urban areas.3 Overcrowding is defined in legislation as when two people over ten years old who are opposite sex but not in a relationship must share a bedroom due to lack of space or less than four hundred cubic feet of air space per person per bedroom.4 However, the reality for children is that sharing a room with multiple siblings, parents, aunts, uncles or grandparents can hinder their emotional, social, mental and physical development.