Human Rights and Equality Commission and ESRI Publish Findings
New research has shown that specific groups, including people with disabilities, lone mothers and young people, are among those facing the highest levels of discrimination and inequality in relation to housing in Ireland.
The new study entitled “Discrimination and Inequality in Housing in Ireland” draws on a range of data, including the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey, the Census, and the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC).
The research published by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) examines people’s direct experiences across three measures: experience of discrimination while searching for housing; whether certain groups experience poorer housing conditions; and the prevalence of homelessness across different groups.
Some of the key findings include:
Young people are more likely to report discrimination in relation to housing than older age groups. Those aged between 18 and 34 are six times more likely to be discriminated against compared to those aged over 65, even after other factors such as education, employment and housing tenure are taken into account.
People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to report discrimination relating to housing and over 1.6 times more likely to live in poor conditions, such as living in damp housing, lacking central heating or living in an area with neighbourhood problems. People with disabilities are also particularly over-represented in the homeless population: more than one in four homeless people have a disability.
Lone parents are particularly disadvantaged. 60% of homeless families are headed by lone mothers. In addition, lone parents experience high levels of discrimination in accessing housing and live in poorer quality housing, including poor neighbourhood environments.
Children have been particularly disadvantaged by the recent surge in homelessness and are now shown to make up 29 per cent of the homeless population.
Travellers have a high risk of being homeless; while they represent less than 1% of the population they make up 9% of the homeless population. Travellers are also almost 10 times more likely to report discrimination in access to housing.
People on housing support payments emerge as more likely to experience housing deprivation and over-crowding compared to other people in the private rented sector.
The report’s analysis includes lessons from the findings for Ireland:
Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:
“Inequality and discrimination relating to housing has a disproportionate impact on certain groups, and represents a crisis within a crisis.
“If policy makers are to find a sustainable solution to the current housing crisis, they need to look at the experience of single parents, people with a disability, members of minority ethnic groups, and people in receipt of housing support payments, to name but a few.
“Addressing housing supply, and in particular the supply of social housing, is essential. However, a one-size-fits-all approach will not meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Both the private and public sectors need to step up to their obligations under equality and human rights law if we are to break the cycle of inequality and discrimination in housing.”
Co-author of the report, Dr. Helen Russell of the ESRI stated:
“Access to adequate housing is a right protected under international law and is fundamental to the quality of life of individuals and families. Reversing the steep decline in the social housing stock over recent decades is essential for tackling inequalities in housing and addressing the needs of groups that are found to be disadvantaged on multiple housing dimensions, including lone parents, young people, people with disabilities and minority ethnic groups. Monitoring the equality impact of housing policies is important to ensure vulnerable groups are not left behind.”
The ESRI works towards a national vision of ‘Informed policy for a better Ireland’. This means producing high-quality analysis to provide robust evidence for policymaking, with the goals of research excellence and policy impact.
The ESRI produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.