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Our Homelessness Strategy

Updated: 31 Aug 2014
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One of the 94 hostels in Northern Ireland
Homeless hostel Ballymena
We took over responsibility for dealing with homelessness in 1989.  At that time there were only two temporary accommodation hostels serving all of Northern Ireland.  
At present the temporary accommodation pool comprises approximately 90 statutory and voluntary sector hostels and 900 private self contained properties for emergency use.
In total, there is access to almost 5,000 bed spaces.  Over the past ten years some 74,000 households have been accepted as statutorily homeless, with 50% of housing allocations going to homeless households.

Background

The first Homelessness Strategy – "Making a Difference to People’s Lives” (Adobe PDF 116 KB) – was published in 2002. It contained 25 recommendations aimed at improving services to homeless households. Since then, significant progress has been made in the implementation of the recommendations which has resulted in improvements in temporary accommodation, homelessness services and preventative initiatives. Success has been due, in no small measure, to the many examples of joint working involving our statutory and voluntary sector partners.
The introduction of Supporting People services in 2003 had a considerable impact, particularly in the delivery of support services in temporary accommodation projects, but also through the establishment of a network of floating support services aimed at sustaining tenancies and preventing homelessness.
The Housing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 placed a duty on the Housing Executive to formulate and publish a homelessness strategy. An extensive range of agencies are obliged to take into account the homelessness strategy in the exercise of their own functions.

Our approach

Homelessness continues to be a significant challenge in Northern Ireland and a problem that afflicts the lives of many of our citizens. There are numerous reasons for homelessness; family dispute, breakdown in living arrangements, addiction, mental ill heath, debt and tenancy breakdown and so on. The effect of homelessness impacts on individual lives for years and this influence goes beyond the immediate lack of accommodation. It impedes an individual’s health, financial and social well being. For this reason, no one organisation or agency can address these issues in isolation. There is now a greater need than ever to respond to homelessness in a coordinated multi agency approach as required in the legislation and for each partner to contribute their expertise and resources to promote social inclusion.
The Housing Executive has been responding to homelessness for 22 years and in that time has developed considerable experience and expertise. With the publication of the first Homelessness Strategy in 2002 and the introduction of Supporting People in 2003 substantial progress has been achieved in how homelessness is managed.
However, at this time of economic uncertainty and the financial environment in which all services are operating there is an opportunity to be more creative and to consider new approaches on how to respond to homelessness.
This strategy builds upon the progress made in implementing the recommendations contained within the 2002 Homelessness Strategy. It highlights the context within which the new strategic direction will be developed and provides the basis for the production of a robust implementation plan which is the next stage of the process.
You can read more about our objectives in tackling homelessness, and how we approach the problems and causes of homelessness in this section.