Homelessness up 15 per cent
Homelessness in Northern Ireland has leapt by 15 per cent in the past year.
New statistics from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive for 2005/06 show that the number of homeless
households had risen to 9,749 from 8,470 the year before.
In response, the executive said it was looking at a raft of measures to tackle the problem.
The figures revealed that nearly 10 per cent of the cases were caused by a relationship ending and a further 2,010, more than 20 per cent, by family disputes and the breakdown of sharing arrangements.
Paddy McIntyre, chief executive of the housing executive, said it was vital to tackle the root causes of the problem.
'Measures such as school education programmes on the consequences of leaving home and mediation for family disputes can contribute to preventing homelessness, especially among young people.'
Ricky Rowledge, director of the Council for the Homeless Northern Ireland, said the executive needed to take urgent action to address the problem.
'We have been waiting for the housing executive, which said that it would be enquiring into why it felt there had been such an increase. I think it is keeping quiet and my own personal view is that a lot of this is to do with the supply of housing.'
Rowledge said the increase in relationship breakdowns was likely to continue and that increasing the supply of housing was the most important way to deal with the demographic changes.
Meanwhile, the number of families in temporary accommodation in Wales has been pulled back from the record levels of the previous three months.
Figures published by the Welsh Assembly for the last quarter of 2005 showed that the number of homeless
households in temporary accommodation was down by 7 per cent to 3,480.
Almost 3,800 households were in temporary accommodation at the end of September (Inside Housing, 17 March).
But the assembly warned that the drop was not enough to reverse the long term upward trend in the use of temporary accommodation.
Carl Chapple, Wales development officer at Homeless Link Cymru, said it was too soon to say if it had been
successful in tackling rising levels of homelessness.
'When we see the figures come down over a number of quarters we will then be able to talk about whether we have turned the corner. It is a little early to be flying the bunting out yet,' he said.