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Homelessness doubled since 2000 in Northern Ireland

By Luke Barnes

Published 30/08/2016

Homelessness in Northern Ireland has doubled since the turn of the millennium, stark new figures show. Image posed by model
Homelessness in Northern Ireland has doubled since the turn of the millennium, stark new figures show. Image posed by model

Homelessness in Northern Ireland has doubled since the turn of the millennium, stark new figures show.

More than 50 families or individuals declare themselves homeless every day.

It means the province has the highest comparative level of homelessness in the UK.

The figures emerged as homeless charity Shelter NI launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the issue here.

Tony McQuillan, the charity's local director, said: "We can no longer ignore the scale of homelessness in Northern Ireland.

"Thousands of families and children continue to be denied their right to have a home of their own because we are all prepared to settle for homeless people living in a hostel or other temporary accommodation for long periods.

"Justice demands an end to long-term homelessness.

"We all have a responsibility to act now."

The most up-to-date figures show nearly 20,000 households were affected here as of March 2015.

SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon said she knew of one young family, with a baby and a child in primary school, who have been staying in a hostel for 19 months waiting for a social housing spot to open up in her North Belfast constituency. They had been told by the Housing Executive that no properties were available but cannot move because their oldest child already has a place in primary school.

Ms Mallon said: "The key factor is supply. We're not building enough social housing to meet demand. North Belfast has a huge waiting list."

The MLA added that there was a reluctance to use private renters because of the lack of long-term tenure security.

"If you have a family who gets kicked out of one private rental it makes them reluctant to search again," she said.

The issue of homelessness hit the headlines earlier this year when five people died within the space of a few weeks on the streets of Belfast.

Government figures show there are three main causes of homelessness in Northern Ireland: Sharing/marital breakdown, unsuitable accommodation, and loss of rented accommodation.

Sharing/marital breakdown was the biggest contributor, causing 5,740 cases.

The statistics have helped to spur the new campaign launched by Shelter entitled 'It's in your hands'.

Belfast Telegraph

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