THE CIRCULAR

Homelessness

The Peter McVerry Trust defines Homelessness as “people without a roof over their heads”.

The legal definition in Ireland of The Housing Act 1988 provides a classification of a person experiencing homelessness under section 2 of the legislation, for the purpose of assessment by a housing authority, as someone in a situation whereby:

“There is no accommodation available, which in the opinion of the authority, he together, with any other person who normally resides with him or who might be reasonably expected to reside with him, can reasonably occur or remain in occupation.”

And while the causes of homelessness differ on a scale, people who experience it oftentimes share similar life experiences.

Sharon McMurry, whose real name was changed to remain anonymous, experienced sexual abuse at an early age by a family member and was exposed to life‘s hardship before she was legally old enough to drive a car.

Living with repressed emotions of anger and rage, she would at times lash out. Her emotional outburst would get her in trouble and at times she would be kicked out of school.

Looking for ways to repress her anger, she began consuming sleeping pills that were given to her by a neighbor.

To make matters worse, growing up in poverty, the only way she knew how to help her mother support their family was through theft. Being caught while shoplifting, McMurry was sentenced to twelve months in prison. 

The time spent in prison did not help her. It was during her time in prison that she was introduced to Heroin.

After her release from prison at the age of seventeen, she became pregnant. Unable to handle the responsibilities, she resorted to homelessness.

Leaving her child in the care of her mother, McMurry‘s new life on the street led her down a path she was fortunate enough to escape.

According to the monthly report, which was published in Quarter 1 of 2022, the number of homeless people in Ireland has increased. The latest figures show that in March 2022 approximately 4957 single adults, 1238 families, and 2811 children under the age of 18 were homeless.

When compared to the figures published from the 2016 census, there has been a clear increase. According to the findings, the majority of the homeless were male between the ages 35 to 39.

While these numbers may be shocking there are many charities that have made it their mission to support these people that find themselves in these circumstances. The Peter McVerry Trust for example, which was founded in 1974, offers residential community detox services to those who wish to recover from drug abuse.
 
By Adina Sarah Abraham
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