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Homelessness crisis could see many sleeping on the streets this winter, MLAs warn

The north is facing a homelessness crisis, MLAs have warned

MANY people could be forced to sleep on the streets this winter, an all-party group of MLAs has warned amid fears of an increasing homelessness crisis.

The group on housing met the chief executive of the Housing Executive, Clark Bailie, earlier this week to discuss their concerns.

In a joint statement, the group said it was concerned by the news that 18,000 people are presenting as homeless across Northern Ireland.

Temporary accommodation for homeless people is running at full capacity, the MLAs said.

The group includes the Green Party's Steven Agnew, the SDLP's Nichola Mallon, the DUP's Mervyn Storey, the UUP's Robbie Butler and Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín.

"We are facing into a homelessness crisis in the knowledge that many people could be forced to sleep on our streets," they said.

"The All Party Group on Housing is demanding that the Housing Executive resist any pressure to cut support services for people who are homeless."

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A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive said the number of households presenting as homeless has remained "relatively consistent" over the past two to three years.

"We believe our current homeless strategy gives us all a good basis for dealing with homelessness and whilst progress has been made, it is clear there are real challenges ahead and there are many concerns amongst the sector relating to long term funding," she said.

"We continue to highlight the funding priority that is required to tackle homelessness in Northern Ireland.

"A total of £37.1m of funding was invested by the Housing Executive in homelessness provision across Northern Ireland in 2017/18."

She said reducing homelessness "in the current economic climate requires greater emphasis on prevention and early intervention through multi-agency working including sharing of resources and continuously looking for creative and innovative solutions".

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