Homelessness in Ireland

Educational Resources on Homelessness

Causes of Homelessness

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

Generally, the experiences that lead to homelessness are underpinned by the following types of causes: structural, institutional and personal.

On this page, we'll go into more details on each type of cause to give you a broader view of who may be impacted by homelessness in Ireland and why that may be the case.

Following that, you'll have an opportunity to explore some of the solutions to ultimately end homelessness in Ireland, including ways in which Peter McVerry Trust is working to minimise the risk of people experiencing homelessness in the future. 


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 issues, 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 understand their circumstances, rather than focus 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 in homelessness.

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.

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at the causes of homelessness in more detail, let’s take a look at some of the solutions to homelessness.