We rightly hear a lot in the media about rising levels of homelessness. What we hear less often is that the single biggest cause of homelessness in the case of families is what a new report calls ‘relationship breakdowns/family circumstances’ rather than termination notices. It is the second biggest cause for single households.
The ‘Homeless Quarterly Progress Report’, covering April to June this year, shows that out of 972 new cases of homelessness involving family households, 282 were the result of relationship breakdown/family circumstances. Notice of termination accounted for 181 cases.
When we look at single households, we find that 127 new cases of homelessness were the result of relationship breakdown/family circumstances vs 238 termination notices. There were 481 instances of single households moving into homelessness overall.
In addition, family breakdown contributes to increased demand for accommodation overall. Before a relationship breakdown, the whole family will have lived under the same roof. If the family breaks up, one or more members must go to live elsewhere, so they are now living in two places, not one.
Therefore, there is a strong incentive for the State, within the limits of its ability, to put more effort into preventing relationship breakdowns.
Media reports on homelessness needs to give greater prominence to the role of family breakdown as a major contributory factor.
(Here you can find some tables about social changes in the area of family life in Ireland)