Over 4,500 Children living in temporary accommodation in NI
This morning the Department for Communities released the latest edition of its homelessness bulletin. The statistics show that in July 2023, just under 4600 children were living in temporary accommodation in Northern Ireland. This included over 3000 children aged nine and under. This is an increase of 88% since 2019 when just over 2400 children were living in temporary accommodation.
The statistics show that the number of households living in temporary accommodation has more than doubled over the last four years. In July 2023, over 4200 households were living in temporary accommodation, compared with nearly 2100 in 2019. This is an increase of 104%.
Between January and June 2023, over 8,500 households presented to the Housing Executive as homeless. This was an increase of 5% on the same period in 2022. Just under 5300 households were accepted as homeless, a rise of 3% when compared to the same period in 2022.
Derry and Strabane Council recorded the highest rate of presentations with 7.4 presentations per 1000 people (1,109 presentations in total). They were followed by Belfast Council which had a rate of 6.7 (2,317 presentations) and Antrim and Newtownabbey (722 presentations) Mid and East Antrim (689 presentations) and which had a rate of 5.0 presentations per 1000 people. The average number of presenters per 1000 across NI as a whole was 4.5.
Nicola McCrudden, Chief Executive of Homeless Connect said:
“These figures starkly highlight the deteriorating situation we are facing when it comes to homelessness here. Month by month, more and more households are finding themselves in need of temporary accommodation here. Many households are finding themselves stuck in the temporary accommodation system, in some cases sadly for years, due to the lack of social housing.
The fact that just under 4600 children were living in temporary accommodation here at the end of July should shock us. This is equivalent to over 150 school classes. Far too many children are having to experience the uncertainty of life in temporary accommodation with all of the consequences this can have for their wellbeing and future prospects.
The number of households living in temporary accommodation also comes with a significant and rising financial cost. Over the last five years, the amount of money being spent on temporary accommodation provision has more than quadrupled, from £5.8 million in 2018/9 to £23.7 million in 2022/3. This is placing huge pressure on budgets for homelessness services and diverting funding away from much needed homelessness prevention schemes.
Many households living here are struggling with the rising cost of living. With rising interest rates, some households with mortgages are being pushed to the brink. Rents in this society have risen rapidly, seeing some households having no alternative but to present to the Housing Executive as homeless due to affordability. Too many people are unable to access high-quality, affordable homes suitable for their needs and the situation appears to be worse
There are no easy fixes available to the problems we are facing. The absence of the NI Executive is hampering the ability of this society to respond to these housing and homelessness challenges in a planned way. Due to the absence of budgetary certainty and political leadership, statutory agencies and the wider homelessness sector are locked in to a reactive posture constantly having to fight fires. They are simply unable to engage in a planned and systematic way in the upstream preventative work which prevents homelessness before it happens.
Let us make no mistake, the poorest people living here are reaping the bitter fruits of the political dysfunction which continues to mar governance here. We know that with the right policy and the right resources homelessness can be prevented and reduced. Without it, this situation will only degrade and deteriorate further with all of the devastating consequences this will have for those impacted.”
Notes to the editor:
- Homeless Connect is the representative body for the homelessness sector in Northern Ireland with member organisations providing homelessness services including temporary accommodation, street outreach, day centres and floating support homelessconnect.org
- The calculation of school classes uses an average of 30 children per class. Consequently, the number of children in temporary accommodation could fill 152 school classes.
- The statistics show that in July 2023, 4,569 children were living in temporary accommodation in Northern Ireland. This included exactly 3000 children aged nine and under. 4,204 households were living in temporary accommodation in July 2023 compared with 2065 in January 2019. Between January and July 2023, 8,531 households presented to the Housing Executive as homeless. 5,281 households were accepted as homeless.
- You can read the Department for Communities Homelessness Bulletin and the accompanying data tables.
- In 2018/9, the Annual Report (p12) of the Housing Executive stated that they spent £5.8 million on temporary accommodation. In September, the CEO of the Housing Executive told Belfast City Council that the Housing Executive spent £23.71 million on temporary accommodation across NI.