Homelessness: Why we all deserve to own a front door key

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By VIEW editor Brian Pelan

In 2014, we produced a VIEW issue about homelessness. It was my first time covering the subject and I was shocked by what I found.

With the support of the Simon Community NI and Choice Housing, we are going to look at the subject again.

I recently asked Jim Dennison, Chief Executive of Simon Community NI, has the situation improved for the homeless from three years ago.

“It has got worse,” he replied. “At this point of time we are in a homelessness crisis.”

Michael McDonnell, Group Chief Executive at Choice Housing, said: “Northern Ireland has the highest comparative level of homelessness in the UK with more than 50 families or individuals declaring themselves homeless every day.”

The introduction of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland (a new single benefit payment for people aged 18 to 64 years old. It is due to replace Tax Credits and income-related benefits such as: Income Support, income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Housing Benefit) will also have an impact.

The situation is also bleak in the Republic of Ireland.

There are now almost 3,000 homeless children across the country, among a total homeless population of 8,160 according to the latest figures.

In Dublin the number of homeless children increased by 153, from 2,270 in June to 2,423. The number of homeless families in the city grew by 63, from 1,115 to 1,178 since June.

Analysis by the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh has found that the number of homeless people in Britain will reach 575,000, up from 236,000 in 2016. The number of people sleeping rough will more than quadruple from 9,100 in 2016 to 40,100 over the same period, the research found.

People granted asylum in the UK are routinely driven immediately into homelessness and destitution because of Kafkaesque quirks in the system to deal with refugees, according to research conducted for the Guardian newspaper.

A survey of people granted asylum in 2016 and 2017 has revealed the devastating impact of homelessness among those who often believe gaining refugee status will be the end of their troubles. Instead, they often say the period after being granted protection produced even worse difficulties.

In our latest issue on homelessness, we will strive to examine the situation and will give a voice to those directly affected by the situation. We will also look at possible solutions to it.

At the end of the day we all deserve to have our own front door key.

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