Homelessness crisis for Derry families

Councillor Tony Hasson and Sandra Duffy, First Housing pictured yesterday at the Shantallow Sinn Fein office discussing arrangements for a family left homeless before Christmas. 1612JM39

Councillor Tony Hasson and Sandra Duffy, First Housing pictured yesterday at the Shantallow Sinn Fein office discussing arrangements for a family left homeless before Christmas. 1612JM39

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Many families in Derry are facing a particularly bleak Christmas this year - as home repossessions soar and space in temporary accommodation runs out, Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson on Derry City Council Colr Tony Hassan revealed this week.

Colr Hassan told the ‘Journal’ : “Over the last number of weeks, I had more people in my constituency office presenting themselves homeless because of repossessions than in the whole of the 2011. And the Housing Executive cannot get any temporary accommodation for them.”

Colr Hassan believes that the failure of the Department of Social Development to provide homes for the high numbers of homeless people in the city is disgraceful with some families now spending their second Christmas in temporary accommodation.

“Figures are showing that almost 1,800 people are homeless in the Derry City Council area and growing each day. This is totally unacceptable. The Housing minister needs to move quickly to provide more social homes in Derry as a matter of urgency.”

Also gravely concerned about the lack of temporary accommodation in the city is Sandra Duffy, Floating Support Co-Coordinator for First Housing. Ms Duffy revealed a further worrying development in the current homeless crisis.

“We have seen a significant increase in families approaching us in the last six months because they have been in private rented accommodation and their landlord has had their home repossessed. They then find themselves homeless through no fault of their own because the landlord has got into financial difficulty. So regardless of these people having paid their rent, paid all their bills - suddenly they are told they are homeless.”

First Housing provide a floating support service for families and vulnerable adults. “We assist people who are homeless, threatened with homelessness or who have previously been homeless. We try to source alterative accommodation for them or help them integrate into a community. We can work with people up to two years - it’s about prevention of homelessness.

“However, most of our projects are full and have a waiting list. So anyone finding themselves homeless will have a difficult on getting into temporary accommodation as all the beds are already full and we are at full capacity. It is definitely a crisis.”