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According to The Housing Act of 1988, a homeless person is someone who lacks adequate accommodation to dwell in, or resides in an institution, hospital or shelter due to the absence of a home. Housing is a basic human need, yet being homeless is more than just not having a roof over your head – it also means that a person’s security and factors such as love, family, warmth, food, and support are insufficient. There are many sources that attribute to homelessness. War, natural disasters, poverty, substance abuse, inadequate solutions to mental health issues, family breakdowns, eviction by landlords, lack of care, poor government policies and welfare.
A couple of weeks ago, while traveling through the streets of Dublin I came across several people sleeping rough. I placed all the change I had in my pocket into their Styrofoam cups and carried on with my day. What I did not consider at the time, is the adolescent who I just handed my coins to. I pondered about how they ended up in this situation.
Had a family dispute occurred at home? Maybe it was something to do with welfare issues, or perhaps eviction? I never contemplated this type of topic. It’s funny when you realize the number of things we overlook in our day-to-day lives. Since October of this year, it is estimated that close to 8,500 people across Ireland are homeless, 46.5% of which are aged 24 or younger. This figure comprises of adults and children in emergency accommodation. The number of individuals who have become homeless has increased by over 31% since last year. Now, nearly one in every three people who are under emergency accommodation is a minor. This means that roughly 3,200 children were seeking emergency accommodations alongside their families.
The current rise of homelessness in Ireland is driven by eviction and insufficient welfare. Most families who are now homeless were never exposed to these kinds of circumstances before. Families are struggling with low-income values or social welfare, which adds to financial issues as landlords continue increasing the rent charges. However, the national figure does not contain the number of individuals who are sleeping rough. During November of this year, the official count for those sleeping rough confirmed the number to be 184 in Dublin city alone. While Emergency accommodations are facing challenges, which need to be surpassed. Similarly, those who live on the streets have matters of their own. As some don’t seek help from night-shelters and other institutions, they survive on the cold pavements of concrete jungles.
Consequently, living rough has its own challenges to face. People who do so are exposed to being severely injured/mugged by other individuals, mistreated by bystanders in the form of vulgarism or micturition, and exposed to the discomforts of the bitter climate which can, in time, lead to sleep deprivation. Furthermore, chances of severe illness, hunger, malnourishment and poor hygiene amongst the homeless are high, and after a prolonged period can result in paranoia and anxiety.