Paul Frew DUP MLA for North Antrim has expressed his concern with levels of homelessness in North Antrim and has met with charitable and support groups in the last number of weeks to try and get a handle on the problem .
Frew stated: “I assist many people every single week most times upto 100 people and a good bulk of that work is helping them with Housing issues or homelessness. Have no doubt about it Homelessness is a massive problem in North Antrim but when you help people individually it’s difficult to get a real grasp of the level of it .
“I have sought meetings and spent time with groups like St Vincent De Paul and Simon Community to name just a few who have been very willing to tell me about the pressures they are under trying to deliver support for people and families who find themselves homeless .
“The numbers are stark ! In the Ballymoney area we have 138 people classed as homeless and in Ballycastle 132 people.
“Homelessness is a growing problem in the UK, bad debt is on the increase, rent arrears and mortgage repossessions are still on the rise despite significant recovery in some sectors since the recession.
“The housing crash hurt us harder than any other part of UK so we have a huge problem with negative equity.
“According to the Simon Community 42% of households in NI report that they have no savings , 39% report they have no back up plans. The average level of savings and investment held by NI households is £706.
“The reality is that, on average, we are only 19 days away from the breadline. We need to ensure that there is enough suitable affordable housing stock in the next number of years to meet an ever increasing demand. “That support is given to families who are under immense pressure. (Relationship breakdown is still the largest single cause of homelessness in the UK at 40%).
“Support has to be given to people suffering from poor mental health and disabilities. Prevention measures need to be invested in regarding rising health problems that could be crippling to our health service in years to come including alcohol and drug addiction.
“As we slowly rise out of the worst recession in living memory we need to realise, as a society that there will be many many issues to face before life gets better for everyone.”