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A Qualitative Study Of Lgbtqi+ Youth Homelessness In Ireland

A Qualitative Study of LGBTQI+ Youth Homelessness in Ireland


This research conducted by Co-Investigators Dr Aideen Quilty and Prof. Michelle Norris and commissioned by Focus Ireland represents the first ever study of LGBTI+ youth homelessness in Ireland.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Project Outline

Research Aim

The broad aim of the research is to gather and explore information about the scale and triggers of homelessness among Irish LGBTI+ youth, to document first-hand experiences of homelessness to help understand the issues affecting this marginalised group and recommend ways the sector can work together to resolve them.     

Research Objectives

To achieve this broad aim, the research addresses the following five objectives: one, to explore the processes and ‘triggers’ that contribute to LGBTQI+ young people’s homelessness or housing instability in Ireland; two, to ascertain LGBTQI+ young people’s experiences of frontline homeless and related support services in Ireland; three, to examine the potential obstacles to housing of LGBTQI+ young people in Ireland; four, to compare the experiences of LGBTQI+ homeless young people in Ireland with the findings of the international research evidence on this cohort; and five, to make recommendations on the development of policies and services to meet the needs of young, homeless LGBTQI+ young people in Ireland, including recommendations on measuring sexuality and/or sexual identity in homelessness statistics.

Methods in brief

The research involves 22 qualitative in-depth interviews with young LGBTQI+ homeless people conducted on a one-to-one basis between December 2018 and August 2019.   The interviews are loosely structured and conversational in format. Interviewees were invited to weave their personal stories around the following themes: entry into homelessness, how it all came about and whether there were any specific triggers such as coming out and its relationship to becoming homeless; if participants have any experiences of homelessness – what these experiences felt and look like, the key challenges faced and how they are navigated; exit routes from homelessness, if relevant, and how these were successfully navigated, any ideas for better support for homeless LGBTQI+ youth and for preventing homelessness among LGBTQI+ young people.

The research also included 13 interviews with 14 stakeholders in the homelessness sector in Ireland over the period May to June 2019. These interviewees include: civil servants involved in making policy on homelessness and on young people’s issues; funders and providers of services for homeless people, and representatives of support and advocacy groups for young LGBTQI+ people and young people leaving care. Depending on the organisation the interviewee represented, some or all of the following broad issues are explored: stakeholders’ views on the extent of homelessness among LGBTQI+ youth and how the size and characteristics of this population should be measured and recorded; triggers of LGBTQI+ youth homelessness and the key challenges facing this group; effectiveness of homeless services in meeting the needs of this group and how their needs could be met more effectively; and effectiveness of the policy response to LGBTQI+ youth homelessness and how this could be improved.


In brief, the research identifies a high degree of fear and anxiety among the young people when engaging with homeless services. The majority of young people interviewed articulate an unwillingness to enter a space, such as a hostel, where they fear they would encounter a lack of understanding or blatant homophobic and transphobic attitudes among both other service users and staff.  On the other hand, the research shows an overwhelmingly positive impact for those who did access frontline services, such as key workers. However, some young people interviewed also report instances of less positive interactions with both staff and clients of homeless services. Despite its prevalence, the issue of homelessness in the LGBTQI+ community has not often been addressed and the authors of this report hope that more visibility of the issue will lead to more efficient management of the homelessness sector by policymakers and management.

                                              Focus report quotation                       

Outputs and Publications

Report: Quilty, Aideen and Norris, Michelle (2020) Qualitative Study of LGBTQI+ Youth Homelessness in Ireland Report commissioned

by Focus Ireland

Report Launch:  At the research launch event on 17th Nov 2020 Focus Ireland were joined by Chris O’Donnell, Safety net Peer Worker and expert by experience, who gave an eloquent and compelling response to the research from a lived experience perspective.

Link to launch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2E97OIrQzE

Link to Focus Ireland Blog by Chris O’Donnell: https://www.focusireland.ie/a-qualitative-study-of-lgtbqi-youth-homelessness-in-ireland/

Journal Article: Norris, Michelle and Quilty, Aideen (2021) Unreal, unsheltered, unseen, unrecorded: The multiple invisibilities of LGBTQI+ homeless youth  Critical Social Policy Vol. 41 No. 3   https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0261018320953328

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