SVP is a member of the Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness, a coalition of 15 organisations working to tackle the causes and consequences of homelessness among young people. SVP is particularly concerned at the impact of the reduced rate of Jobseekers Allowance for young people aged under 26 which can increase the risk of homelessness and make it more difficult for young people to move out of homelessness. The reduced rate of social welfare payment for young jobseekers means that even young people who can rely on their family for support are struggling to afford a Minimum Essential Standard of Living, and the rate is totally inadequate and inappropriate for homeless young people who have more limited support from their family.
The Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness has called for urgent action by the Government as the number of young people becoming homeless has increased by 82% in the past four years.
The coalition made the call as they launched their first campaign document today which clearly outlines a number of very specific policy actions which must be taken in order to better protect vulnerable young people.
The Coalition said without more action the youth homelessness crisis will continue to deepen as the most recent homelessness figures show that there were 869 young people aged 18 to 24 accessing homeless services in December 2018. This has shot up by 82% as the number of young people aged 18 to 24 accessing homeless services in December 2014 was 477.
Young people are one of the most vulnerable groups experiencing homelessness. They are least likely to know where they can get help or how to present to services and they are most likely to stay with friends and family in unsustainable situations. As such, many more are not included in official statistics.
Commenting at the launch, a spokesperson for the campaign said: “We very much fear that young people who are homeless have been forgotten in the current crisis. We know that with the right interventions their specific needs can be addressed and they can move out of homelessness and into productive, independent adulthood. However, these interventions aren’t happening for everyone, and this means that more young people are in danger of experiencing long-term homelessness. We have come together as a Coalition to put forward practical solutions which will act to better protect young people at risk.”
The actions outlined in the campaign document centre around three main themes: Housing First for Youth, Prevention and Early Intervention, and addressing existing policies that disadvantage young people. Some of the key actions include:
The Coalition was joined at the launch event by Hugh Russell, Project Manager with End Youth Homelessness Cymru. Commenting on the success of the campaign in Wales, Hugh said: “The Welsh coalition has achieved considerable early success, with a pledge from the government to address the problem within a decade, an acknowledgement that it is a cross-departmental priority and an initial investment of £10m for 2019/20 to prevent the issues leading young people to become homeless there”.
The Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness was established in September 2017 as a way of consolidating the work of different organisations who are trying to tackle youth homelessness. The Coalition aims to draw attention to the issue and present collective solutions with the aim of ending youth homelessness.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, National Youth Council of Ireland, Focus Ireland, Barnardos, BeLonG To, COPE Galway, Crosscare, Novas, SpunOut, Peter McVerry Trust, Simon Communities, EPIC, Threshold, Teen Parents Support Programme, USI