145 people in the district are homeless

THERE are 145 households across the Banbridge district currently registered as homeless.

Almost 40 per cent of that figure includes families with children and last year 37 people were placed into temporary accommodation because they had no home.

The figures themselves are not shocking, according to local councillor and member of the Northern Ireland Housing Association Joan Baird, but she said more needs to be done to create suitable accomodation for homeless people locally.

“You tend to think of homeless people as living on the streets with no roof over their heads but that is not really the case,” said Mrs Baird. “A lot of those registered homeless are currently housed in unsuitable accommodation in terms of there not being enough room for all those living there.

“There are many different reasons why people are declared homeless.”

Information from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive revealed that the most common reasons for homelessness in the past year include marriage or sharing breakdown, relationship or family disputes, the loss of private rented accommodation and the current accommodation being unsuitable.

A spokesman for NIHE said, “Where an applicant presents to the Housing Executive as homeless, or is found to be homeless, we will assess their eligibility for homeless assistance in Northern Ireland.

“If an applicant is eligible for assistance, and found to be homeless and in priority need, temporary accommodation can be offered as a short term housing option.

Mrs Baird said, “The main issues in this area are housing for single people and housing for families. We need more accommodation to suit the need.”

The NIHE spokesman added, “There is a wide variety of hostels, shared houses or flats and other accommodation available for homeless people across Northern Ireland. A number of hostels only accept referrals from agencies such as the Housing Executive, Social Services or other agencies. There are also some emergency hostels that accept self-referrals directly from homeless people.”