28 November 2005

Homeless figures show drastic increase for year


Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has said that the latest homelessness figures for Belfast show that there are significant increases in the numbers of people presenting as homeless.
Councillor Mc Cann said that year on year there is an increase in the number of people presenting themselves to the Housing Executive.
“The figure is up over 20 per cent on the same period last year. In the six months, April to September, this represents an increase in nearly 500 hundred people,” said Councillor Mc Cann.
“Last year there were 4665 people in total presenting as homeless while only 50 per cent of these were accepted as homeless.
“Not only is there an increasing number of people presenting as homeless, the facts show that this number includes a significant number of families (30 per cent) and older people (11 per cent),” he added.
Councillor McCann said that there has been a significant increase in Housing Executive provision from 627 hostel places in 2002/3 to 1139 in 2004/5.
“However, despite the year on year increase in homelessness, the overall level of provision has remained static because of a big drop in the number of voluntary places,” said Councillor McCann.
“It is essential that the issue of homelessness is given a greater priority because potentially anyone is at risk.
“There are a huge number of reasons for the increase and a large number of associated needs.
“But the bottom line is that we need a clearer picture of both accommodation and support needs and to increase the number of accommodation places available,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive said: “The Housing Executive has recorded that homeless presentations in Northern Ireland have increased by 17.5 per cent compared to this time last year,” said the spokeswoman.
“The number of these applicants found to be homeless have also increased by 12.5 per cent.”
The spokeswoman said that the rise comes after homelessness figures had remained generally static in recent years.
“The Housing Executive is currently carrying out a detailed analysis into the reasons for this increase and is looking closely at homelessness trends and causes,” she added.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

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