Homeless charity in Northern Ireland's benefit warning
A homelessness charity in Northern Ireland has warned that there could be a rise in the number of homeless people due to the pressures on social housing and benefit changes.
Crisis is urging the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure people with vulnerabilities are protected.
A study by charity and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that almost one in eighteen adults had experienced homelessness, which is 6% of all adults in Northern Ireland, reports the BBC.
The study found that homeless figures in Northern Ireland have been historically high since 2005/06 due to a collapse in the housing market. They found that the most likely groups to be homeless were young people, renters, single people and lone parent households.
Niall McCarroll, who works for the Londonderry housing project Shepherd’s View, has said he has witnessed the effects on young people.
“With people losing their jobs and family break-ups, people have been turning to alcohol or drugs to find some sort of coping mechanism or release from reality.”
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Northern Ireland faces a period of enormous flux, with upheavals to the welfare system, rising pressure on social housing and sweeping reviews of policy. This report is an early warning signal. It is critical that the Northern Ireland Assembly monitors homelessness and safeguards services in this time of radical change. There must be a safety net to protect the most vulnerable. Crisis is concerned that for many people struggling on low incomes, these changes could be the tipping point that places them at risk of homelessness.”
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Households in Northern Ireland have already faced a dramatic fall in their income during the downturn. There is now is a real opportunity to provide low-cost, good quality homes to meet the needs of the poorest. Failure to do this risks pushing more people into increasing financial hardship and homelessness.”
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