Concern at increase in Belfast Homelessness
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, up by nearly 500 (21.1%) on the same period last year, with 2,822 people presenting over April to September 2005, compared to 2,330 the previous year.
Cllr McCann said:
"Year on year there is an increase in the number of people presenting themselves as homeless to the Housing Executive. The figure is up over 20% on the same period last year (April - September). In the six months, April - September, this represents an increase in nearly 500 hundred people. Last year there 4.665 people in total presenting as homeless while only 50% of these where accepted as homeless.
"Not only is there increasing number of people presenting as homeless, the facts show that this number includes a significant number of families (30%) and older people (11%).
"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.
"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." ENDS