Following revelations that more than 26,000 people are now living in housing stress in Northern Ireland, a housing federation is calling for urgent action to address the crisis.
Ben Collins, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA), was responding to the latest annual Northern Ireland Housing Statistics which were published this week. Mr Collins noted that politicians already support the key changes that are needed but said progressing these must be put at the top of the political agenda.
“In the last year, 2,000 more people in Northern Ireland have found themselves living in unsafe or unsuitable accommodation. That’s another unwelcome record number, up from last year’s 24,000,” he said.
“For reasons that are outside their control – a change in circumstances, working zero-hour contracts or in low paid jobs, dealing with illness or disability – more and more people here are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
“Despite this crisis, funding and other constraints mean that less than 2,000 new social homes are built each year,” Mr Collins continued.
“We can and must do more,” he emphasised. “A secure place to call home is the foundation on which people build better lives for themselves and their families. Without a home, it’s almost impossible to sustain good physical or mental health, earn a qualification or keep a job.
“That’s why housing must be at the very top of our political priorities and that’s why NIFHA is launching It Starts with a Home.
“We clearly set out the actions that are needed to make real progress in providing the number of homes that are urgently needed.
“In Homelessness Awareness Week, we ask every General Election candidate and every political party to pledge their commitment to ensuring that everyone in Northern Ireland has a secure place to call home by supporting #StartswithaHome.
“Everyone can do their bit by letting your local politicians know that you care and by following the campaign on Twitter.”
It Starts with a Home is available for download at nifha.org.
Ben Collins is available for interview, contact him on 07734 157038 or at email@example.com.
The Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations, formed in 1977, is the representative body for NI’s 20 registered housing associations.
Our members are all not-for-profit organisations. Together, supported by the Dept. for Communities and the Housing Executive, they provide more than 50,000 social and affordable homes.
Housing associations access private finance to effectively double the number of homes they could build with government housing association grant alone.
Housing associations also deliver high quality care and support to help people stay as independent as possible. Working in partnership with other organisations, they also invest millions each year in community services and facilities.
Our sector employs more than 3,200 people and manages housing assets worth £3.8 bn.