Child homelessness in Belfast rises 20% in under two years | Freedom of Information Archive | PPR

Child homelessness in Belfast rises 20% in under two years

Belfast’s social housing waiting list shows a marked increase in levels of homelessness since March 2022 Right to a Home | Thu Mar 14 2024

In March 2022, Belfast’s social housing waiting list included 12, 237 households – of which around six out of ten (61.6%) had Full Duty Applicant status, meaning they passed all four of the Housing Executive tests for homelessness.

Less than two years later, at end 2023, Belfast’s waiting list had risen slightly to 12,483 households – but the proportion of them with official FDA homeless status had risen significantly, to seven out of ten (69.9%). This shows that the housing waiting list in Belfast is growing, albeit at a fairly slow rate: but the level of homelessness in the city is increasing much more rapidly.

A bar chart demonstrating outlining the increase in homelessness among those on the total waiting list in Belfast from 7,545 in March 2022 to 8,725 in December 2023
Image caption: Seven out of 10 on the housing waiting list in Belfast are officially recognised as homeless.

The Housing Executive says that the way it records housing data uses sub-areas that do not have mapped boundaries. However, it is possible to show where there are areas of greatest need in the city. Analysis reveals that of Belfast’s 8,725 homeless households at end 2023,

  • 2,131 (24%) were in North Belfast: 78.3% of them in predominately Catholic areas
  • 3,141 (36%) were in West Belfast: 89.7% of them in predominately Catholic areas
  • The remaining 3,453 (40%) were in the Housing Executive’s catch-all ‘South & East Belfast’ region

Worryingly, analysis of Housing Executive statistics from the end 2023 reveals that an unprecedented number of Belfast’s children under the age of 18 are growing up in the city’s 8,725 homeless households -at least 5,387 according to this most recent data, up from 4,462 children in March 2022. This is an increase of 20.7% in the number of children growing up in homeless households in Belfast in under two years.

At what point will Belfast and NI authorities make them an absolute priority? Luckily we don’t need to wait for an answer to that question.  The Take Back the City Coalition, which includes homeless families fighting for social homes, has developed a masterplan for the Mackies’ site in west Belfast which has the potential to deliver 750 homes as well as commercial space on a publicly owned site in west Belfast. To read more about how homeless families developed the design principles for the site, see the plans and show your support visit: Rezone Mackie’s! | Take Back the City