Councillor Martin Reilly.
Colr. Reilly said homelessness was a serious problem in Derry and added that the logistical problems for someone living in temporary housing can make receiving healthcare difficult because of the lack of a permanent address.
“Every day in the constituency office of Mark Durkan MP we see citizens who are homeless - many of whom are living temporarily with friends while awaiting a housing allocation. Other constituents have no home at all,” said Colr. Reilly.
“As well as the consequential physical and mental health issues that this can bring for them, there are logistical problems as well for the Department of Health in terms of appointment attendance when the person has no permanent address.”
Colr. Reilly went on to say that he has written to Health Minister Jim Wells to ask him for clarification on what is being done to address these problems.
“Also, in order for a person to receive a housing allocation from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) they often have to document their own medical circumstances and that of their family members to obtain a higher number of housing points. This adds time pressure to medical professionals.
“I wrote to the Health Minister requesting clarification on efforts between his department and the Department of Social Development in terms of addressing these issues.
“I welcome a reply from Jim Wells stating there has been significant engagement between his department, the Health and Social Care Board, the Public Health Agency and Health Trusts with both the Department of Social Development and the Housing Executive in relation to the issue of homelessness.”
Colr. Reilly finished off by stressing the importance of healthcare for all local people, no matter their housing status.
“It is important that all citizens are able to get the medical help they need regardless of their housing circumstances – indeed those who are homeless often require more regular medical assistance than those who have the security that a home provides. Also, those who are on the housing waiting list require medical evidence to support their points allocation within the NIHE points system.
“All of these circumstances represent a good example of the importance of DSD’s ‘Supporting People’ programme which we in the SDLP would like to see strengthened.”