Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Assembly pledges £35m as homeless figures up by 12%

By Cate McCurry

The Executive has pledged £35m to tackle the rising number of homeless people across the province.

The Communities Minster said the funding will help prevent homelessness and provide vital support services including hostels, 'crash' beds and outreach services.

It comes weeks after the Belfast Telegraph revealed the shocking number of families with children in Northern Ireland who do not have a permanent home.

Around 4,100 are currently homeless - a rise of 12% in the past two years.

In the last 10 months, six homeless people died on the streets of Belfast.

Communities Minister Paul Givan set out the Executive's plans to tackle the problem at the start of Homelessness Awareness Week.

Many reasons for becoming homeless are being linked to wider societal issues such as relationship breakdown, debt, underlying health issues and addictions.

"The role of communities is vast but it is safe to say that one of the most important issues within my portfolio is to ensure that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to call home," he said.

"Homelessness in our society can take different forms, from those who may have a roof over their head such as those living in hostel accommodation, with friends or family or in unsuitable accommodation to the more visible and extreme situation of those who sleep rough on our streets.

"Regardless the circumstances, there is no place for homelessness in Northern Ireland and I, along with my Executive colleagues are committed to tackling this complex issue."

Speaking about the £35m funding, the minister said that he has witnessed the services provided by homeless charities, Depaul and Extern.

"I have talked to those individuals who find themselves in very difficult circumstances and rely on the vital support services provided by these organisations," he added.

"I cannot emphasise enough the contribution these services make to giving people a second chance and an opportunity to turn their lives around."

Research shows that west Belfast has the highest number of families who are homeless, with 241 living in a range of temporary accommodation including hostels, bed and breakfasts and hotels.

The Ballymoney area has the fewest, with just four families homeless.

More than £23m has been spent on emergency housing in the past five years.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph