For two days this month (October 17 and 18), the St. Vincent de Paul shop on South Great George’s Street in Dublin is being transformed into a unique Hidden Homeless estate agency window. The properties on offer include ‘lived-in’ flats with mold issues, hotel rooms unsuitable for families, and ‘a relative’s couch’. It’s part of a campaign by SVP and Huskies to draw attention to the current homelessness crisis in Ireland.
Not all homeless individuals and families live on the streets. The Hidden Homeless include those who’ve lost their homes due to hikes in private rented sector rents, and have subsequently become forced to stay in hotels or B&Bs. Others have to make do with cold,damp and poor-quality rental units or ‘sofa surf’ in the homes of friends or extended family. This campaign aims to make the issue of Hidden Homelessness more visible in society, by presenting it in a unique and unmissable way.
The campaign kicked off with the properties going live on Daft.ie. Users browsing the site were presented with these overpriced, often grubby options. The descriptions made clear how lacking in facilities these makeshift homes usually are, especially where children are concerned. Now the pop-up estate agency window has been unveiled in the city-centre, and the public are invited to engage with the listings displayed in its windows.
There are 90,000 households waiting for social housing across Ireland, and over 2,000 children living in homeless accommodation in Dublin. “We need swift action on social housing to meet the needs of these families,” says John-Mark McCafferty, SVP’s Head of Social Justice and Policy. “The situation for many families is critical. Since August 2015 in Dublin alone, the number of families living in homeless accommodation has jumped from 607 to 998, and the number of children in those families has gone from 1,275 to 2,012. In addition, average rents nationwide have risen by 40% since 2012. Mr. McCafferty also points out that today (Monday, October 17th) is the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty, with homelessness both a consequence and a cause of poverty. “Tackling the housing and homelessness crisis is a key way to address poverty,” he adds.