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.
Ensure everyone at risk of homelessness gets the support needed to prevent it happening.
The potentially devastating impacts on health and wellbeing of homelessness are well known and strongly evidenced. The negative impact of homelessness is felt not only by those who experience it but also by wider society.
It is widely accepted across the homelessness sector that it is infinitely preferable to prevent homelessness before it happens rather than reacting to it. However, this is easy to say but harder to put in to practice. It also requires significant financial resources to implement effective preventative programmes.
Homelessness is not a simple phenomenon. There are numerous different factors which can lead a person or a family to become homeless. Consequently there are a diverse range of interventions which could be utilised to seek to prevent homelessness. Some of these include:
- Counselling and mediation services.
- Advice services
- Services focused on supporting asylum seekers and refugees who are at risk of homelessness.
- Education and training programmes for those experiencing homelessness and staff in the homeless sector.
- Raising awareness of homelessness.
- Mental health services and health interventions
- Children and youth services and effective school programmes targeted at homelessness prevention
- Employment support
- Floating Support services
This is not an exhaustive list. Some of these preventative interventions are in place in this society and do in practice help to prevent households from experiencing homelessness. However, the tragic reality is that too many households continue to experience homelessness here.
The recently published Homelessness Strategy for 2022-2027 has as one of its primary objectives to “prioritise homelessness prevention.” While this is very much welcome, if it is to be achieved it has to be funded. We need our political leaders to not only rhetorically support homelessness prevention, but to provide the resources needed to make it happen.
 “Long-term homelessness has significant impacts on health and well-being, with people experiencing chronic health conditions including cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, as well as mental health and substance-use disorders (Grech & Raeburn, 2018). People experiencing homelessness have greater morbidity and mortality rates than the general population and experience more co-morbidities than their housed counterparts (Lee et al., 2017). Alarmingly, there are marked differences in age at death between homeless and housed people. In the UK, for example, the average age of death of a single homeless male occurs at 47 years and 43 years in women. This is 30 years lower than the general population,” Stacey Wilson, Andrea McCloughen, Jenny Parr and Debra Jackson, “If you are homeless you are welcome here”: Social obligations for the homeless and socially disadvantaged,” Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2019;28:2721.
 NI Housing Executive, “Ending Homelessness Together”, 23 March 2022, https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Documents/Homelessness-Strategy-2022-2027/Ending-Homelessness-Together-Homelessness-Strategy.aspx 26.