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Gildernew - Rise in homelessness figures point to failure in strategy

28 August, 2003

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has expressed concern at the continued increase in homelessness figures and said that it is an indication that the strategy has failed.

Ms Gildernew said:

"There can be no acceptable level of homelessness. The latest figures showing that the number of homeless cases here has risen by 16% are shocking. It is an indictment on the failure of the homelessness strategy to tackle the problem.

"Twelve months ago there were 14,000 homeless applications, these new figures show that since then almost 16,500 people have presented themselves as homeless.

"Significantly intimidation accounts for almost 10% of that figure. Through the six counties Unionist paramilitaries have been waging a campaign of violence and intimidation particularly in mixed area such as Antrim and around interface areas such as North Belfast with the very deliberate objective of creating 'no-go' areas for nationalists by forcing them out of their homes.

"Since the collapse of the institutions and the re-introduction of direct rule organisations dealing with the issue of homelessness have reported a lack of political will make progress on this issue.

"We need more resources to meet the demand for emergency accommodation and support accommodation. However the problem runs far deeper. We need to address the entire housing policy. We need to build more homes and make much better use of existing stock. There are also huge numbers of people on waiting lists classified as A1 priority or in 'stress'.

"It is not enough for good words and paper policy initiatives. To help people avoid homelessness, to bring people out of homelessness and to continue to provide support for people escaping homelessness requires sustained action and political will." ENDS

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