So what is the plan? The Housing Executive is selling off all its stock; over 89,000 social housing units in what could be the biggest sell – off from public to private in the world. Stormont is in crises, again! What now?
The whole sale and an effective break-up of the HE means the people lose out once again. The bottom line is; there are more people living homeless on the streets or in some sort of temporary accommodation.
Now we have the collapse of the institutions due to a major scandal (RHI) and seemingly now both major parties in power knew about it and did nothing. What a sorry state of affairs.
We have people dying on the streets, whole communities affected by the troubles, a major crisis with our NHS and endless corruption and scandal in Stormont.
From personal experience within my own community I know the looming fear for people is the continued uncertainty; of their own futures, welfare reforms, more cuts, and now the institutions have collapsed with an impromptu election on the horizon only eight months after the last.
There more people on the streets than the HE statistics show. Some of the hostels in Belfast are inadequate and as a result many of the people presenting to outreach teams on are asking for sleeping bags to stay on the street; yes some people would rather sleep rough than stay in some of the hostels. It’s not to say some of these places are not up to the job, because they once were, but the quality has declined.
The lack of beds for the homeless sleeping rough, lack of social housing, cuts to frontline services, welfare reforms, it’s clear that the working class is feeling the brunt of all of this.
It has been pointed out to me on many many occasions’ that there are NO BEDS! But we remain with the same answer, there are.
Its old now, either your statistics are wrong or the hostels and people on the frontline are lying. Just the other week we had a post from the Chairperson of HAVEN an outreach team that provide a 7 night a week service on the streets of Belfast city centre saying, that a pregnant lady was on the streets using the service saying she had nowhere to go.
We have reports from Amethyst outreach another homeless group of a man sleeping outside the night shelter after being told there were no beds left!
Now if it’s true the homeless situation is getting worse should we not have a plan in place? Housing first? That is an amazing plan and it has worked, Canada being one of those places that it did. But is there the political will to do it?
This is the question. If there is enough money to spend on a boiler scheme that wasted hundreds of millions of pounds then there should be enough to fund the services and provisions needed to take care of some of our most vulnerable people.
We await the big plan and how the HE and (none) government seek to deal with homelessness. If they pledge to pour the money and resources into the correct services, projects and initiatives while working with outreach teams, campaigns, organisations and individuals then we may be onto something.
If there is a genuine will there will be a way.
#No More Deaths On Our Streets –
A campaign that has emerged in light of the rising number of deaths of homeless people in Belfast.
From the start of the campaign it was clear people were angry and frustrated and ravenous for change.
It has not gone unnoticed that a lot of the work being done in the city centre to aid rough sleepers, and hidden homeless, is being carried out by volunteer groups.
These groups are the foundations upon which something can be built, something that could face the situation head on and bring real change not only to those on the streets but those struggling within accommodation, hostels or otherwise.
The No More Deaths campaign seeks to raise awareness around homelessness not only by protests, banners and words, but actually organising to try and bring likeminded people together to educate and to pro-actively address the homeless issue.
Last week No More Deaths held a screening of award winning Ken Loach film ‘I Daniel Blake’ at the Warzone centre after which a discussion was held; in attendance were over 80 people.
On the panel were several members from outreach groups, charities and projects including representatives who took part in the Apollo house occupation.
The night was a success and the anger and emotions showed a clear desire for change. #No More Deaths outlined its mission statement with the aim to end homelessness through unity, education and mobilization.
With the occupations of Apollo house in Dublin, the Belgravia occupation in London people are beginning to take actions. If the campaign can harness the passion and anger we could see big things on the horizon.