Housing Executive Homelessness Strategy has failed - Ní Chuilín
Speaking after the launch of the Audit Office report on homelessness Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Carál Ni Chuilin MLA said “it is clear from this report that the Department for Communities Homelessness Strategy 2012/17 has failed."
"The Audit Office report notes that homelessness is more than simply people sleeping in the streets, it is also about people and families having to live with relatives, in temporary accommodation or living in properties not suitable to their needs.
"The report makes it clear that not only has there been a 32% increase in the number of households designated as statutory homeless over the last five years but that the Housing Executive was unable to produce first hand evidence or published statistics to show why the rate of homelessness is so high or that they had been able to prevent people from becoming homeless."
Ms Ni Cuilin said that:
“Whilst the report voices a concern about the possible abuse of the Housing Selection Scheme it also needs to take account of a recent UN report which highlighted the impact of unequal access to social housing behind the high proportion of Catholic households on the waiting list and registered as statutory homeless
"As we have seen all to recently sectarian hostility and unionist territorial claims restricts access to social housing at the same time as there is a growing nationalist population with greater need to establish new households. This is leading to increasing overcrowding in many nationalist areas, with two and even three generations forced to share a home."
Commenting on that section of the report which states; "Sometimes homelessness is the result of personal difficulty or tragedy, family breakdown, ill health or addiction" Carál Ni Cuilín said;
"More often homelessness is the result of structural disadvantage, poor wages and high housing costs, negative equity and rising mortgage payments, unequal access to social housing, the negative impact of benefit cuts and changes.
"Everyone should have a right to a home and there is a particular emphasis on the Housing Executive to address what the Audit Office report has identified and which many of us have been pointing out for years, we need to build more social homes.
"The Housing Executive are persistently failing to reduce demand for social housing through increasing the supply of homes and this is having a direct impact on the levels of homelessness across the North."