National Survey Highlights Housing Insecurity for many Women and the Lifeline of Social Housing

March 6, 2024

Co-operative Housing Ireland’s International Women’s Day survey reveals that securing social housing provides a pathway to independence for women

A national survey of CHI women Member Tenants highlights the precarious housing journey many women face prior to securing their social-rented home. CHI, an Approved Housing Body (AHB), carried out a survey this past month to better understand the housing journey its women Member Tenants experienced before and after securing their social-rented home. International Women’s Day 2024 serves as a reminder that women face specific, and often challenging, barriers in accessing housing.

In CHI’s survey, 40% of the respondents reported having lived in significantly unsafe housing in the past, and 20% lived in a threatening or abusive household before securing their home with Co-operative Housing Ireland. A large majority (88%) reported that housing precarity negatively impacted their mental wellness and required financial assistance from a friend or family (83%).

The survey affirms the positive impact securing social housing has by providing a pathway to independence for women tenants - not only through greater health and wellbeing but also better access to employment and education as well as more financial freedom and security. The results of the survey underscore the stabilising impact on both the women and their families from having a secure tenancy.

Impact of secure and affordable social-rented housing with CHI:

● 90% report a significant positive uplift in their mental wellness by securing housing and an additional 74% of family members being positively impacted through secure housing

● 66% report increased social inclusion in their CHI home

● 70% report a positive impact on their relationships with partners and/or family members

● 71% cited a greater ability to save money for a rainy day

● 62% reported positive impact on educational outcomes for children

● 58% reported a positive impact on employment and/or educational opportunities for themselves.

Housing precarity, experience prior to social-rental housing:

● 2 in 5 experienced housing which was significantly unsafe

● 1 in 5 lived in a threatening or abusive household

● 3 in 10 experienced discrimination or exclusion in accessing housing

● Most of the women are going it alone with 76% single, divorced, separated or widowed

● 67% have children under 18 present in the home and 65% are lone parents

● The respondents experienced a high incidence of hidden homelessness where 3 out of 10 have had to live with family or friends before securing a home

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Eoin Carroll, CHI’s Director of Policy and Communications, said:

“The impact of social housing, truly affordable housing, is significant and while often maligned, should be championed. Co-operative Housing Ireland’s survey further evidences the need for greater public awareness about the specific challenges faced by women regarding housing. Women bear the brunt of caring responsibilities and are typically the main carers after divorce and separation. While strides have been made in pay inequality, women typically earn less so they pay more proportionally for rent on the open market. This puts women in a precarious situation when it comes to housing as they often remain longer in a home where they are vulnerable or live in situations of ‘hidden homelessness’ - living in overcrowded accommodation with friends of family members - or in substandard conditions.”

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