A 52-year-old man forced to flee his home of 15 years after being attacked by the UVF said he has been flung into a deep depression by the failure to find him a permanent home.
The man, whose identity is known to the Belfast Telegraph, lived in his Housing Executive home in the Village area of south Belfast.
A model tenant, he had no problem until a clash with a senior UVF figure, known locally as ‘the Meercat’, resulted in a campaign of intimidation against the 52-year-old.
He was assaulted by a gang of loyalists who later returned and smashed all the windows of his Rockview Street home.
With nowhere else to go, the man tried to remain in the boarded-up house but at the start of May the PSNI delivered a threat message saying his life was in danger from the UVF.
“I had no choice but to leave after that — the police officer who delivered the threat advised me that I wasn’t safe to remain in my home”, he said.
“I’d lived there for 15 years and never had any bother until then.”
He had no choice but to present himself as homeless and was at first placed in a hotel before being moved to a hostel 13 miles away in Bangor, Co Down.
“I would have suffered from serious depression but since having to leave my home in south Belfast it’s getting worse.
“I’m the oldest person in the hostel – it’s mainly young lads who blast music and I can’t sleep or properly function and my health is just getting gradually worse.”
With the UVF threat verified by the PSNI, he is now on the highest number of housing points possible and yet said no one can tell him when he will receive a permanent home.
“With Covid you can’t call into an office, everything is over the phone, I just keep being told I’ll have to wait and to be honest I’m not sure how much longer I can go on like this.
“I was the victim of intimidation and yet I feel the system is continuing to victimise me.
“I can never return to that area now, I’ll have to find a home and start again somewhere else.
“Are the Housing Executive seriously trying to tell me there is not one property available for a single man with 310 points in a vast area of north Belfast?
“I’m stuck in a hostel for homeless people, I’m at the end of my tether, through no fault of my own and all I want is a safe home. I feel really let down.”
A Housing Executive spokesperson said: “This man presented to the Housing Executive in early May. Given his circumstances, he has a high priority status on the waiting list.
“Our housing team have been in regular contact with this man about this areas of choice and we hope to have a permanent housing solution for him in the near future.
“He has been offered and accepted temporary accommodation until suitable accommodation becomes available.”