Homelessness faced by hundreds in NI

Published Thursday, 17 January 2013
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The prospect of homelessness is being faced by hundreds of families in Northern Ireland, the Simon Community has warned.

Homelessness faced by hundreds in NI
The charity warns that many are a few paypackets away from being homeless. (© Getty)

The number of people approaching the charity for accommodation has almost doubled in the last few years - jumping from 1,972 in 2009/10 to 3,652 in 2010/11.

Meanwhile, 5,047 households presented as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive during April to June last year, an increase of 21% compared to the same quarter in 2011.

The Simon Community's new Freephone Helpline received 13,400 calls, the latest statistics revealed.

Carol O'Bryan, the organisation's chief executive, said that increasingly they're dealing with the 'new homeless.'

She described them as people who have been living fairly comfortably until hit by job loss, family break up or another crisis.

"Their savings soon run out and suddenly they find they can't meet the mortgage payments or pay the landlord.

"Often they turn in desperation to the quick fix loans they see advertised on TV, not realising that the high interest charged by many will only add to their problems."

Ms O' Bryan said that these families "don't fit society's traditional stereotype of the homeless."

She explained: "They aren't running away from anything; they are not transitioning out of care: they don't have mental health issues, alcohol or substance abuse problems."

"Their pride means that they often hide their difficulties and the family support system which - thankfully - still exists in Northern Ireland means that they are more likely to be 'sofa surfing' around relatives' homes than actually on the streets."

The charity has often stated that many people are just a few pay packets away from homelessness and are calling for active intervention immediately to stop it spiralling out of control.

The sweeping changes currently proposed through Welfare Reform will add to society's problems, Ms O'Bryan added.

"We are eager, together with others in the voluntary sector, to work with Government to create positive change, but the problems with Welfare Reform need to be addressed immediately or the risk of homelessness will increase."

© UTV News
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3 Comments
Michael in Belfast wrote (549 days ago):
These are the real issues affecting us instead of a flag, these are the issues our political representatives should be concentrating on. Oh I forgot they are, the likes of Nelson McCausland dismantling the Housing Executive, agreeing to under occupancy changes to Housing Benefit, whilst it was his department that removed the New Build function from the Housing Executive, resulting in too few single person properties, it is not like other parts if UK where there is a higher proportion of single person dwellings. This country is going backwards to the dark days and our bigoted political representatives would rather do deals behind closed doors with paramilitaries over a flag than confront the `tory` government and fight for us.
Paul in Derry wrote (552 days ago):
It never ceases to amaze me when there are people in genuine need, the DHSS and the Housing Executive do nothing about the number of people who commit housing fraud. People who pretend to be split up, both get a house and housing benefit to pay their rent on both. They then live in one house and sub-let the other and pocket the cash. Meanwhile there are not enough houses or money to support those most in need.
Red Dwarf in Space wrote (552 days ago):
I am being made redundant at the end of Jan and i fear that i will be made homeless, i have 2 kids and a bit mortgage plus all the other big bills you have to fork out for. It is just so hard living at the moment :(
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