Open Access

An absence of rights: Homeless families and social housing marketisation in Ireland


This paper discusses the outcomes of a participatory research process with homeless parents living in Dublin-based emergency accommodation, during which a critical appraisal of a range of government schemes was coconstructed. The focus is on examining the impacts on vulnerable families of the marketisation of social housing. This is examined through the homeless families’ attempts to procure private rented housing using the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and their experience of life in family hub emergency accommodation. The significant challenges experienced by homeless families are examined from the perspectives of human rights and capability theory. The paper concludes that the Rent Supplement, Rental Accommodation Scheme and HAP are costly market-oriented schemes and unlikely to provide satisfactory long-term housing solutions, while family hubs are far from ideal from a capability or human rights perspective. Only a significant increase in the direct provision of social housing by local authorities and housing associations can provide ontological security and well-being, and advance human-rights-based social housing.