In the run-up to the Assembly election coming on Thursday May 5, Homeless Connect developed a manifesto to take to political parties putting forward candidates.

We worked with our members and our policy forum to develop the manifesto. It includes ten policy proposals which, if enacted, would make a real difference in preventing and reducing homelessness here.

As polling day nears, we are going to publish a series of blogs unpacking the ten proposals and explaining why they matter.

For all our Assembly Election 2022 coverage (including the rest of our own manifesto) click here.


Ending rough sleeping

In Northern Ireland, homelessness does not primarily manifest in the form of rough sleeping. However, it sadly remains the case that hundreds of individuals do sleep rough in this society each year.[1] While the numbers are not as high as in many other towns and cities across these islands, they remain too high. One person who feels like they have no viable option other to sleep rough is one person too many.

In our estimation, political parties should commit to seeking to end rough sleeping here. Sleeping rough can have devastating consequences for health and wellbeing.  There are a host of reasons why individuals sleep rough and so a variety of different policy solutions will be required.

There have been encouraging developments in responding to rough sleeping in recent months, such as the development of the Complex Lives programme in Belfast, which may help deliver constructive change to the benefit of those sleeping rough.[2]

A clear commitment from the Executive to seek this goal would help drive policy forward. With political will and resources, rough sleeping can be reduced and ended. Due to the strategic approach they have adopted, Finland has now reached the point where there “are almost no rough sleepers”.[3] Such change is possible.

[1] Between March 2019 and March 2020, the Welcome Organisation engaged with 1248 service users. Approximately 10% of those service users were rough sleepers, which would be around 125 people. Foyle Haven supported 125 people in their day centre over the same time period, 13% of whom were rough sleeping. This would be around 16 individuals. These are only the individuals who engaged in rough sleeping who came in to contact with those services. See Sarah Carter and Ruth Flood, “Role of Day Services in delivering support to those experiencing Chronic Homelessness”, 5 February 2021, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, accessed 4 April 2022, 87 and 104.

[2] NI Housing Executive, “Homelessness Strategy 2022-2027”, 38.

[3] Housing First Hub, “Finland”, accessed 4 April 2022.

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