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What Are The Causes Of Homelessness?

What Are The Causes Of Homelessness?

The causes of homelessness are rarely straightforward

Whatever the initial reason that someone becomes homeless (a relationship breakdown, for example), we know that poverty is likely to be an underlying factor.

The chances of someone experiencing homelessness by the age of 30 are predicted by:

  • childhood poverty (by far the most powerful influence)
  • geography (more likely in areas of higher housing market pressures)
  • adverse experiences as teenager (especially being excluded from school, serious drug use, being in care
  • early adult experiences (leaving education early, experiencing unemployment, renting, illness/ disability, social relationships with family)

Often, several of these factors are to blame. For example, persistent poverty can affect family relationships or a person’s mental health. Or having complex needs, such as mental ill health or a physical disability, can make it more difficult for someone to gain or sustain employment.

That’s why our BALCProject teams are trained to offer a full range of support, connecting people with mental health services, drug and alcohol recovery and help with tenancies, debt and finding work. We help people develop resilience so they can better cope with past traumas and adverse life events.

Homelessness is complicated and some people need more support than others to move away from it. Our staff understand how each person is shaped by their history, while recognising that everyone has the power to change and grow.

What does ‘experiencing homelessness’ mean?

Experiencing homelessness means not having a safe, secure and private place to call your own. About a third of the young people we help are rough sleeping, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Many more are  considered to be part of the ‘hidden homeless’ population – they might be sleeping on a floor or ‘sofa-surfing,’ living in a temporary hostel, or somewhere else that isn’t a proper and permanent home.

If this is your life, you’re always having to move. You have nowhere to call your own or to keep your belongings safe. It can be dangerous – you are more likely to be the victim of violence if you’re experiencing homelessness. And you are also vulnerable to exploitation by others. 

Homelessness also makes it harder to get the support you need. Without a permanent address, you can’t register with a GP, claim benefits, or in most cases, find a job.

The young people who come to us for help are often struggling with their mental health and their physical health can be suffering too, particularly if they are sleeping outside.

They usually have very little money and nowhere else to turn. They have often been let down by adults in their lives and can find it hard to trust others. Many have experienced trauma in their early lives.

Preventing homelessness

With the right support, people can be prevented from losing their home in the first place.

If someone is at risk of becoming homeless, we prevent people from losing their home by helping them to maintain their tenancy, manage their mental health and address any other problems they are facing – whether it’s related to money management, debts and benefits, poor housing conditions or relationships with landlords.

And because causes of homelessness can often be traced back to childhood, we also have services for young people. By putting the right support in place, we can ensure that any issues they are facing are addressed, and that they feel included, have positive mental health and a bright future.

HOMELESSNESS In Northern Ireland

Department of Communities published the latest edition of its Housing Bulletin for January to March 2023. The bulletin, which is published four times a year, includes a raft of statistics on housing and homelessness.

  • In total, 4,355 households presented as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive during January – March 2023. This is an increase of
    322 (8.0%) on the same quarter in 2022 (4,033).
  • The household types with the highest proportion of homeless presenters during January – March 2023 were single males (33.3%) and families
    (31.7%). The age group with the highest number of presenters for both single males and single females was the 26 to 59 age group with 1,175 and
    410 presenters respectively.
  • A full duty applicant is an applicant considered by the Housing Executive to be eligible, homeless (or threatened with homelessness), in priority need
    and unintentionally homeless, to whom the Housing Executive owes full housing duty.
  • The number of households accepted as full duty applicants for the quarter January-March 2023 was 2,803, an increase of 367 (15.1%) on the same
    quarter in 2022 (2,436).
  • The most common reason for presenting as homeless reported by full duty applicants was accommodation not reasonable (886).
  • Of those households accepted as full duty applicants during the quarter, 200 were discharged.

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