Belfast Telegraph

Scale of homelessness revealed

Almost a fifth of homeless people in Northern Ireland were on the streets for more than two years.

Over half of the most marginalised in society were without shelter more than once, a survey showed.

One man lived in seven hostels over the last four years.

Adam Galway, 24, from Belfast, said: "I've been to see the Housing Executive many times in the different areas I have lived in and been told that I'm not entitled to anything.

"The help I need is to stop me being institutionalised after so long in hostels.

"I've seen hundreds of people like me who can't acquire somewhere of their own."

On Wednesday the Homeless Action group, a partnership between the Simon Community Northern Ireland and the Participation and Practise of Rights human rights organisation, will launch research findings. In the past year more than 100 homeless people contributed to a survey and provided evidence about temporary accommodation and the effectiveness of homeless services.

While government policy is that nobody should remain in transitional accommodation any longer than they need to, the organisation said, 62% of those who took part in the survey had been homeless for more than six months and almost one in five for more than two years. A total of 55% of people experienced homelessness more than once.

Kenny Flood, 22, lived in a hostel for more than a year and a half because he was intimidated.

"It is starting to feel like home and I don't like it," he said.

"They don't tell you how long you might be in here, then when you're in for a long time it can mess with your head."

According to the Housing Executive's website, t he number of households presenting as homeless during the year was 19,374. The number of households accepted as homeless was 9,878.

The main reasons for homelessness included breakdown in family relationships, unreasonable accommodation, loss of rented accommodation, neighbourhood harassment, mortgage default, domestic violence, intimidation and release from hospital or prison.

"The impact of the recession and a lack of affordable housing present significant challenges in addressing homelessness," it said.

"Our homelessness strategy published in May 2012 is now operational and the Promoting Social Inclusion Homelessness Partnership, which brings together a wide range of agencies, has been meeting regularly to commence implementing the actions contained in the strategy.

"The overarching aim is to eliminate long term homelessness and rough sleeping across Northern Ireland by 2020."

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