Disadvantaged groups face hurdles over housing
2018-07-01 13:37:52 -
Human Rights
By Finn Hoogensen

Discrimination can make it harder for certain groups to have equal access to housing.

That’s according to the latest annual report from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

Housing in Ireland was a key issue addressed in 2017 by the IHREC, which recently published a study with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) looking at discrimination and inequality in the housing sector.

“It is clear from our recently published research that the [housing] problem is not just about supply, but also the additional barriers faced by certain groups in accessing appropriate housing,” said IHREC chief commissioner Emily Logan.

Women who are single parents, people with disabilities, and members of the Traveller community are especially prone to facing discrimination when looking for housing, Logan added.

According to the IHREC/ESRI research, 60 per cent of homeless families have a single mother. Single parents were also found to live predominantly in poorer quality housing and neighbourhoods.

People with disabilities, meanwhile, were found to be more than twice as likely to report housing discrimination, and are over one-and-a-half times more likely to live in poor conditions. More than 25 per cent of homeless people have a disability, the research added.

The IHREC also found that Travellers are nearly 10 times more likely to report housing discrimination. Travellers constitute nine per cent of the homeless population even though they are less than one per cent of the total population in Ireland.

“The commission is seeing significant numbers of people contacting us directly about experiencing discrimination related to their disability, their housing status, their gender and their race, illustrating a clear need for a sustained focus on actions to eliminate discrimination in Ireland,” said Logan, who added that the IHREC has met with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to encourage a more human rights and equality-based approach to housing.

The IHREC recommends reforms to housing law and policy, such as the available amount of quality permanent social housing as well as security of tenure. The IHREC also provides legal assistance in the area of housing for those in need.

“The commission will continue to examine what practical actions are being taken to vindicate people’s human rights and equality of treatment,” Logan said.

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