Belfast Telegraph

Charity warns over housing problems

Almost 5,000 households in Northern Ireland claimed homelessness in just three months, it was revealed.

The number was slightly down on previous months but a charity said people remained vulnerable to family breakdowns or bank repossessions.

Tony McQuillan, director of Shelter NI, said young people were coming to them with mental health and addiction issues as well as housing problems.

"Every day of the year 50 people put themselves through the doors of the Housing Executive and say that they are homeless," he said.

He warned many changes to welfare payments had not yet been decided.

"We believe it will have an impact in the longer term."

Mr McQuillan said the number declaring themselves homeless fluctuated with the seasons.

"What we are finding is that their needs are becoming more complex. They are coming to us with multiple causes of homelessness.

"Rather than just a breakdown of family relations, drugs and alcohol and mental health issues are emerging.

"Some young people have more challenging behaviours."

According to the Department for Social Development's latest housing bulletin, 4,623 households presented as homeless to the executive during April to June 2013.

This is a decrease of 300 (6%) from the previous quarter, and those citing a family dispute or breakdown in arrangements to share homes contributed the highest number of cases.

Between the first three months of this year and the next three, residential property prices rose by 2%.

For April to June this year the price was 3% lower than the same period last year and 11% lower than the first three months of 2005.

The total number of new home building starts from April to June this year was 1,141, an increase of 15% on the same period in 2012.

The total number of new dwelling completions was 1,999, an increase of 52% on the same period in 2012.

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