Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Housing Executive-Helping the Homeless

Helping the Homeless

Making a Difference to People’s Lives

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is working with others to tackle the causes and effects of homelessness by:

· Helping people to avoid homelessness
· Helping people to escape from homelessness; and
· Supporting people when they get a home.

“In Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the UK, homelessness is one of the biggest social care issues today. Tackling its causes and affects is no longer a single issue about housing.
“The biggest cause of homelessness in Northern Ireland is relationship breakdown and the breakdown of sharing arrangements and this is not something which the Housing Executive can control. The Housing Executive’s priority is to get homeless people into sustainable permanent housing as quickly as possible.

While the number of homeless people here has fallen during the first six months of this year there is no room for complacency. The fact remains that more than half of homeless households are found permanent accommodation within three months, and almost nine in ten within a year. But we are acutely aware that in some areas of particularly high demand, people are still having to wait far too long to be re-housed in permanent accommodation and that issue needs to be addressed.

The number of new social houses available is clearly a crucial factor in combating homelessness. The Housing Executive will continue to press for more funding to be made available for new social housing, and work with the Department for Social Development and housing associations to ensure the effective delivery of the new build programme.

The Housing Executive will also work to maximise the housing choices available including greater use of the private rented sector.For too long, this option has been viewed as an option of last resort and we are committed to working towards making it an option of preference.
But dealing with homelessness is about much more than finding somewhere to live. It is also about dealing with the social and personal issues that lead to homelessness. Behind these statistics are some of our most vulnerable people whose needs don’t disappear when accommodation is provided. Combating homelessness does not end when a person or a family is found somewhere to live. Many people are locked into a cycle of homelessness which needs to be broken. Homeless people need a thorough, professional assessment of their requirements, suitable accommodation and tailored packages of support.

If you are interested in learning more about how the Housing Executive is tackling homelessness, visit the website www.nihe.gov.uk

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