Number of NI Homeless Rises

Soaring numbers of Northern Ireland families are registering as homeless, it has emerged. Numbers on the list jumped by around 20% to over 5,000 prompting sharp criticism of the Government for not accelerating public house building quickly enough. Family disputes or unsatisfactory accommodation was responsible for most of the cases. Homeless charity Shelter accused housing authorities of neglecting society`s most vulnerable people.

“Housing associations are not being provided with the funds to build enough houses and building has fallen away under this Government,” campaign manager Laurence Moffat said.

“They have no commitment to trying to meet housing need, their only policy is to break up the Housing Executive as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

“These are horrendous increases in the number of people homeless and this is a serious problem. We have expected these figures to increase because of the housing stress we are experiencing.”

The latest Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin for the first three months of 2006 shows 5,632 households registered homeless during the period – an increase on 4,474 the previous three months. A quarter cited family disputes as the reason for them leaving home and 15 per cent blamed unsatisfactory accommodation.

Mr Moffat said Government was not taking the issue seriously. “Housing is a fundamental requirement for people`s existence but the Government isn`t giving it the priority it deserves,” he added.

“So many migrant jobs are linked to accommodation so if people lose their jobs they also have nowhere to live. There are large numbers of new households coming in here and they are not being factored into the housing need assessment.”

Other key findings of the bulletin included:

  • The average selling price of National House Building Council (NHBC) registered new houses sold during the quarter was £137,000, an increase of £15,000 (12.3%) on the same quarter in 2005.

  • Average selling price of NHBC-registered new houses ranged from £102,200 in Larne District Council to £167,700 in North Down District Council according to provisional figures.

  • Average intended selling price of NHBC-registered flats and maisonettes was £146,000, £41,000 (39.0%) higher than the quarter ending March 2005.

Belfast was the area with the greatest number of new home building starts with a 40 per cent increase on last year.