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NIHE committed to eliminating homelessness

Published: Mon, 24 Nov 2014
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Homelessnessis more than just not having a roof over one’s head
Homelessness awareness week
The Housing Executive is delighted to support Homeless Awareness Week.
Everyone has a right to a decent home and we have responsibility for dealing with homelessness. Through our dedicated teams of staff and working with the statutory partners, the private sector and the many voluntary sector organisations we are committed to eliminating long term homelessness.
Homelessness is however more than just not having a roof over one’s head. It has knock on effects on the health, financial and social well being of many in our society. Our Homelessness Strategy focuses on prevention and we have a host of support services to help those who need assistance.
In partnership with the housing associations 2,000 new social homes are planned to start this year. Over the past 5 years, over 7,400 new homes have been built.  
This year we developed a Private Rented Sector Access Scheme operated by Smartmove NI, which provides a viable accommodation alternative to anyone in housing need by allowing them access to affordable housing of a good standard in the private sector without the need for large upfront rent deposits. The scheme will improve access to affordable housing and will help provide accommodation in the private rented sector where that is the appropriate solution for our customers.
We have initiated a Housing Options approach which will ensure housing and support solutions are found for many people who come to us in housing need. This approach will look at the specific needs of an individual, all their options and choices, including remaining in their current accommodation to prevent homelessness where this is appropriate. It will agree the best housing solution for the homeless person and ensure that appropriate support is delivered when and where it is required.
The Housing Executive, through the adoption of a Housing First approach is ensuring that there is a move away from placing those homeless people with chronic needs into hostels. Rather they will move immediately to permanent accommodation where they will receive intensive support appropriate to their needs in order to create a sustainable tenancy. Housing First schemes, both managed by De Paul, are operating in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.
Our range of support services ensure that help is targeted to those most in need of assistance. Examples of these are:
  • funding specialist accommodation and support services for victims of domestic violence, including providing  a 24 hour advice and assistance helpline
  • funding an advice service for those entering and leaving prison in order that accommodation is available for those prisoners on release
  • funding support services for members of BME communities
  • providing a range of dedicated accommodation and support services and joint working protocols with the Health Trusts to help vulnerable young people, as well as delivering housing and homelessness education in schools
  • jointly funding street outreach, drop in services and crisis accommodation services  for rough sleepers delivered through voluntary sector partners
  • providing support for those with chronic addictions to address the causes of their addiction and achieve better life outcomes
  • jointly funding a multi-disciplinary team in Belfast staffed by social workers and other health professionals to assess homeless applicants with complex health needs and to help them access appropriate services.
There are numerous reasons for homelessness and for this reason, no one organisation or agency can address these issues in isolation. The Housing Executive’s strategy focuses on all the relevant organisations working together to deliver housing, employment, health, financial support and welfare services to those who experience homelessness.”
During Homeless Awareness Week we will be participating in a range of events, including:
  • Homelessness Awareness at Belfast Metropolitan College
  • Simon Community, Kilcooley Tenant Support project, Bangor
  • Launch of ‘Speak Up’ project , Council for the Homeless, NI,  & Health & Social Care Board
  • Launch event at The Maples, supported living scheme (Oaklee Trinity)
  • Opening of Simon Community Resource Centre at Antrim Road. Lord Mayor attending.
  • Shelter event at Clifton House, The Barney Filor Memorial lecture by Donal McManus
  • NSPCC safeguarding children conference, Derry/ Londonderry
  • Opening of L’Arche in Ormeau Road  Supported Living scheme(Oaklee/ Trinity)
  • Stem/NIACRO  Supporting tenancies event
  • DePaul Celebration of life and work in homeless sector at St Paul’s & St Barnabus
  • Launch of Simon Homeless app
  • Play in Ards ‘Hostel & with Q&A session
  • Civic Homelessness Forum, Derry City  Awards
  • NICHS homeless conference in Skainos.