The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) in Derry and Strabane have spent over £800,000 in the last five years providing storage facilities for furniture for people they have housed on a temporary or emergency basis.
It was recently revealed that since 2011, the NIHE has laid out in excess of £2.5 million to provide temporary and emergency accommodation for those deemed to be homeless under Housing Executive rules. This type of shelter is provided at properties within the private rented sector, bed and breakfasts, NIHE owned hostels and private hostels.
The figures also revealed that in the last three years, two of Derry’s district Housing Executive offices, at Waterloo Place and the Collon, have placed prominently in the top ten of the NIHE areas that have spent most on the provision of temporary accommodation.
In October 2015, following a question tabled at Stormont, the latest figures available revealed that 600 people in the Foyle area were deemed as homeless under the definition provided by NIHE.
However, it has also emerged that NIHE also provide a storage service for furniture and other belongings for people and their families facing temporary homelessness.
Following questions asked by the ‘Journal’ on the issue it emerged that the local NIHE spent a total of £861,342.51 on the provision since 2011.
A spokesperon for NIHE said: “Under current homeless legislation the Housing Executive owes certain duties to people who present to it as homeless. The level of duty owed depends on individual circumstances.”
The Housing Executive have confirmed that the figures relate to the amount spent for furniture storage for people who have availed of the service via their offices in Collon Terrace, Waterside, Waterloo Place and Strabane.
In 2011, the amount spent was was £178,671.45, and this rose to £182,036.31 in 2012.
There was a decrease to £173,464.47 in 2013, but this rose sharply again by almost £17,000 to a figure of £190,290.88 in 2014.
The latest figure for 2015-16 shows that so far, the total spend on storage facilities stands at £136,879.40.
The housing body say they provide the service to applicants who are accepted as being homeless and in priority need and that “if there is likely to be any risk to their belongings while the person is homeless and where the person has no other means of protecting their belongings.”
It has also been confirmed by the organisation that the storage service is one which is outsourced by them on a tender basis and that there are three sites in the North used for the purpose.
The NIHE statement continued: “ We provide a framework type contract arrangement for storage with four companies-Browns removals and Storage Ltd, Coastways Storage and Removals Ltd, Pickfords and Swift Shift. This contract was tendered and has been in place sonce December 2015.
“The storage facilities are located in Antrim, Belfast and Limavady.”