Irish News

Saturday 23 August 2014

Increase in number of new homeless

Published 16/01/2013 | 12:50

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Campaigners say problems such as job losses and family break-ups have seen a rise in the number of people living on the streets

Job cuts, family break-ups and quick fix loans are responsible for the rise in numbers of Northern Ireland's new homeless, it has been claimed.

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The Simon Community, a voluntary organisation which provides emergency shelter, said more than 3,600 ordinary families had needed help last year.

Its new homeless helpline has also been inundated with 13,400 calls.

Carol O'Bryan, chief executive of the Simon Community Northern Ireland said: "Increasingly we're dealing with the new homeless - people who have been living fairly comfortably until hit by job loss, family break up or another crisis.

"Their savings soon run out and suddenly they find they can't meet the mortgage payments or pay the landlord. Often they turn in desperation to the quick fix loans they see advertised on TV, not realising that the high interest charged by many will only add to their problems.

"These families don't fit society's traditional stereotype of the homeless; they aren't running away from anything; they are not transitioning out of care; they don't have mental health issues, alcohol or substance abuse problems."

It is feared the new welfare reform measures which take effect in October could also adversely impact on hard-hit families.

The latest figures from the Housing Executive show that 19,737 people presented as homeless last year. A total of 9,021 met the criteria. During 2010/11 there were 20,158 people presented as homeless, 10,443 of whom were accepted.

There has also been a significant rise in the number of repossessions across Northern Ireland. The Court Service said it dealt with 558 mortgage cases between July and September 2012 - an increase of 46% the same period for 2011.

Advice charity Housing Rights Service said it has dealt with more than 100 people a month and called for the Assembly to take action to deal with the growing problem.

Press Association

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