27/09/2002

Durkan points to housing need as homelessness rises

The Deputy First Minister has emphasised the importance of making high-quality housing available to those in greatest need, on the day that a DSD report revealed that the proportion homeless households had risen.

Speaking at the opening of new accommodation for young parents in Londonderry, Mr Durkan said: “A decent home is a basic human right – we in the Executive have made a strong commitment to making appropriate, accessible and high-quality housing available to all, especially to those who need it most. This project demonstrates what can be achieved through partnership working to benefit local communities.”

The Deputy First Minister highlighted the importance of housing in tackling social exclusion and improving health and social wellbeing.

He said: “Around £300 million has been earmarked in each of the next three financial years towards the provision of appropriate housing for all. Poor housing is a major contributor to social exclusion. The Executive has made a commitment to concentrate energies and resources in the fight against poverty, especially as it affects parents and children.

“We are currently developing a Children’s Strategy which recognises the fundamental importance of the role of parents and family life to benefit children and young people. We must give our children the best possible start in life to ensure that they reach their full potential.”

The Young Parents Supported Accommodation Project provides accommodation and a range of support services for young parents and their children. The development provides 16 fully furnished self-contained flats with an associated Resource Centre. The project also provides support and advice services to parents and families linked strategically to the services provided by Foyle Health and Social Services Trust.

Developed by the First Housing Aid & Support Services (FHASS) in conjunction with the Foyle Trust and the Fold Housing Association, the new development is the latest in a series of initiatives concentrating on providing accommodation to homeless families, single parent and single people through a variety of approaches to meet housing need.

The scale of the housing problem was underscored elsewhere today, as the ‘Northern Ireland Housing Statistics 2001-2’ report revealed that 14,164 households were presented as homeless – a rise of 12% on 2000-01.

The report also indicated that the number of dwellings sold by Northern Ireland Housing Executive fell by 10% from the previous year to 5,061 for 2001-02 and 12,862 new dwellings were started during 2001-02, of which 94% were commissioned by the private sector.

(GMcG)

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