An MLA has branded the level of homelessness in Larne “unacceptable” after it emerged the town has 35 homeless families with children.
The shocking figure was revealed in response to an Assembly question by East Antrim Alliance MLA Roy Beggs.
In total, 35 Larne families with children were accepted as full duty applicants (FDA) by the Housing Executive in 2015/16.
This means that they met the four statutory tests of eligibility to define being homeless: homelessness, eligibility for assistance, being in priority need and being unintentionally homeless, and are indicated as “accepted” by the Housing Executive.
The number of families in that situation in Larne was even higher in 2013/14, with 39 families seeking assistance, but dropped to 30 in 2014/15 before increasing again this year.
In total, 4,100 homeless families with children across the Province were accepted as full duty applicants (FDA) by the Housing Executive in 2015/16.
Reacting to the figures, Mr Beggs called for action to tackle the increasing wave of homelessness sweeping across the country.
“More needs to be done by the Northern Ireland Executive to end homelessness amongst families with children in particular,” he stated.
“The Executive should be working to protect our most vulnerable and ensure that no family, especially one with children and young people, is faced with homelessness.
“A home is a very basic human requirement and the absence of a stable home and learning environment can set a child’s development back from their very early years.
“I have submitted a follow up question asking the Minister for Communities what action he is taking to reduce the unacceptable number of families with children and young people currently in temporary accommodation.
“In light of these figures it is important to recognise the efforts of volunteers and the Housing Executive staff to find accommodation for those who are homeless.
“But the NI Executive needs to do more to assist them,” he concluded.
Director of Homelessness Services for the Simon Community Paddy McGettigan said that while they only offer accomodation for single people in Larne, they offer family accommodation service on Conway Street in West Belfast.
He added that causes of homelessness could include family breakdown, unsuitable housing, loss of income, loss of rented accommodation and mortgage arrears.