Monday, 08 April 2024.

A common thread in the experiences of people staying in our emergency shelter where relationship breakdown with a parent ultimately led to homelessness, is the influence of the housing market - more specifically, lack of housing options leading to reliance on the ‘family home’.

Unable to find a place they could afford, people at our emergency shelter had to turn to the ‘family home’ for housing security. When the understandable pressures on all undermined relationships, and they finally broke down, people’s inability again to access housing pushed them into homelessness.

After Brendan’s rental contract ended, he said, “it was hard to find somewhere. I looked – and it’s just not there.” Similarly, Padraig searched for new rental accommodation when his lease ended but found “there wouldn’t be a lot of choice there for a reasonable price”.  For both Brendan and Padraig, their only option was to return to the family home. Lack of housing prevented Martin from ever making the move to independent living: “there was no options there for me to get private renting, so I stayed at home. That was the only place I could think of – stick at home.”

In all cases, the pressures of adult children and parents living ‘doubled up’ inevitably took their toll and when relationships broke down, inability to access housing under pressure pushed them into homelessness. As Martin put it, “There was no other alternative. And so, here I am (Cork Simon emergency shelter).”  

The toll is enormous. On families. On relationships. On lives. As Brendan said, “Things just fell apart. These kinda things, they soul destroy ya, they really do.”

This is yet another example of how our dysfunctional housing system is affecting people across the generations; the repercussions are real and far reaching. More secure and affordable housing is urgently needed across the age groups.