What is meant by ‘homelessness’?
Becoming homeless can happen to anyone. A person may be homeless if they are:
staying with friends or family
staying in a hostel
staying in a bed and breakfast
living in very overcrowded conditions
at risk of violence if they stay in their home
living in poor conditions that are damaging their health
living in a house that is unsuitable for them
Homelessness is often understood as people living on the streets. However, whilst rough sleepers may represent one element of homelessness, it is a misconception to think that these are the only homeless people who need help. Even those who have a roof over their heads may still be considered homeless.
The Northern Ireland Housing (NI) Order 1988 (as amended) tasks the Northern Ireland Housing Executive with responding to homelessness, and places a statutory duty on the Housing Executive to provide interim and/or permanent accommodation for certain homeless households, dependent upon investigations and assessment of their circumstances.
This report seeks to provide a more thorough understanding of homelessness through statistics, case studies, and factual information. What about rough sleepers? Whilst there are no statistics on rough sleepers in this publication at present, the Housing Executive perform annual street counts of rough sleepers in Belfast, Londonderry and any other area where street activity is identified by the Homelessness Local Area Groups.
Additional data from the PSNI and others is also analysed following standard practice for establishing the number of rough sleepers across the UK.