From the street to a new home - pilot project targets Belfast homelessness

Five properties have been purchased by a social justice charity to enable residents at an east Belfast hostel move into permanent housing.

The pilot project, believed to be the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, is a partnership between East Belfast Mission and Commonweal.

It will provide an opportunity for hostel residents unable to find or afford rental properties to move into homes with wrap-around services and subsidised rents.

Tom Dinnen from East Belfast Mission says demand for the organisation's homeless services are at an all-time high, having received a thousand enquires about its 26 hostel space in the past year.

“As a society we just haven’t built enough affordable housing and with the cost-of-living crisis, soaring rents and over-stretched public services, more and more people are falling into the homelessness trap," he said.

"By intervening with Commonweal to directly provide affordable housing, we can give people the opportunity to have not just a house but a home in the community and a sense of belonging.”

Ashley Horsey from Commonweal Housing says too many find themselves in the 'yo-yo' ofhomelessness and temporary accommodation

"We hope that ‘You’re Home’ provides a blueprint for Belfast, offering longer term, stable housing that will make a difference to our tenants’ lives," said Mr Horsey.

"We are proud to be a part of this important and innovative project as we mark our first venture outside of England."

East Belfast Mission says the properties will free up much needed space in its homeless hostel.

The number of households on the NI Housing Executive’s waiting list is currently45,292, a 73% increase since 2003.

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