In submitting its response to promoting social inclusion of homeless people, Alliance Party spokesperson on Social Development, Eileen Bell MLA, has called for the establishment of a right to adequate housing.
“Homeless people suffer social exclusion across a wide range of services, reducing an individual’s dignity, self-esteem and ability to make a positive contribution to society. It benefits society to tackle and prevent homelessness, and an established right to adequate housing enhances the human rights of our society.
“It is not only an individual’s circumstances that causes homelessness, but other factors such as the lack of affordable housing, access to good quality advice, living with physical abuse or drug and drink misuse, are critical risks. I endorse an inter-agency and inter-Departmental approach as the only feasible way of tackling an preventing homelessness.”
Contributing to the response, Alliance Party Policy Officer, Allan Leonard, explained why the demand for more mixed housing should be acted on:
“Intimidation has led to an average of 1,400 applications of homelessness, per year for the past 10 years. This is one in ten of all such applications, and reflects real financial costs of communal division. In Northern Ireland, segregation is the de facto practice on the ground, often with informal acquiescence of the state.
“I repeat the Alliance Party’s call to make the promotion and maintenance of mixed housing an explicit objective of the NI Housing Executive. There is survey support for mixed housing, but before individuals will take it up, they need to have a sense of security to live with confidence in mixed areas, and know that this choice of theirs will be supported. Working with other authorities, the expressed desire for increased mixed housing can be realised.”
The Alliance Party response to the consultation document, “Promoting the Social Inclusion of Homeless People”, can be found at: http://www.allianceparty.org/showconsultation.asp?id=31