The independent Dublin senator said that there are a number of reasons why women would refuse social housing, and many want “to stay within their means and their needs” by opting for accommodation closer to community supports.
Speaking on Lunchtime Live today, she explained that these women are often stigmatised because they are perceived as being “entitled.”
“There have been a number of media articles over the years talking about women refusing housing,” Senator Ruane said.
“Sometimes when we talk about housing online, people will write: ‘People shouldn’t be allowed to live near Mammy; they should take housing wherever they get offered it.’
“There’s this kind of narrative that people feel entitled to live where they are, which is not the case.
“Usually, it’s women who are parenting alone that are most at risk of poverty and their only capital is their loved ones and the support around them. Their whole social capital is based around the community in which they’re from.”
Senator Ruane, who grew up in Tallaght, said that she has seen first-hand how being near community support systems can benefit those living in social housing.
“If I had been housed anywhere else, I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today. My mother didn’t drive, she would collect the child from creche or school, so you have all those supports.
“And that actually benefits the State. Me being able to remain in my community close to my supports, benefits the State overall because it meant I became less reliant on the State over time because I was able to engage in the supports that are amenable locally to me.”
She added that social housing policies contribute to this stigma by forcing women to take houses that don’t serve their “safety and place of community.”
“The majority of women who are on their own, who are most at risk of homelessness, who are the ones in hotels and in family hubs, they do make decisions from a very particular place – and that their safety and access to their loved ones.
“The stigmatisation is built into the policies itself. If you refuse housing more than once, the council can actually suspend you for 12 months from receiving any more offers... It’s forced women into taking accommodation well beyond where they’re able to live safely.”