Homelessness in Ireland

Educational Resources on Homelessness

Causes of Homelessness

Understanding the causes of homelessness in Ireland is vital in challenging the stereotypes and stigma surrounding one of Irish society’s most pressing issues.

In 2019, Peter McVerry Trust worked with over 6,184 people and was active in 21 local authorities across Ireland. Generally, the experiences that lead to homelessness are underpinned by the following types of causes: structural, institutional and personal.


Structural causes of homelessness are nationwide economic and social problems, often created as a result of government policy and are not specific to an individual person.

Examples of structural causes of homelessness are a lack of social and affordable housing, or an economic crisis.


Institutional causes of homelessness affect a number of individuals in Ireland, but the causes are not directly linked to a person’s personality.

Examples of institutional causes of homelessness are children leaving State care. Peter McVerry Trust successfully lobbied for the development a specific Capital Assistance Scheme for young people exiting State care – you can learn more about that here.


Personal causes of homelessness are challenges specific to an individual person.

Examples of personal causes of homelessness are difficulty with managing addiction, challenging mental health problems, abusive relationships or the sudden break-up of a family.

Causes of homelessness in reality

When understanding the causes of homelessness in Ireland it is vital we recognise the person experiencing homelessness and understanding their circumstances, rather than focusing on the issue of homelessness itself.

An example of how homelessness is caused can look like this:

Recession (structural) impacts employment in the country and an individual loses their job.

Then the individual’s marriage ends (personal) and they have to leave the family home.

Without a job they can’t afford to rent a place to live, and with a shortage of social and affordable homes (structural) the person ends up homeless.

Sometimes, in isolation, one of the above causes may not force someone into homelessness. However, the above example illustrates how quickly a combination of factors can change an individual’s living circumstances.