A DUP MLA has said that coastal resorts like Portrush and Portstewart cannot be used for temporary homeless placements without consultation with local communities.
East Londonderry MLA Maurice Bradley was speaking after it was revealed, through an Assembly Question, that from March 2020 to December 2020, less than 10 percent of homeless placements in Portstewart came from the local Housing Executive office, covering the Causeway Coast and Glens area.
Bradley requested the information from the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey following numerous complaints about anti social behaviour and a rise in crime in the Portstewart area.
“I am well aware of the homeless crisis here in Northern Ireland, and I understand the need for the Housing Executive to find temporary accommodation for applicants given the pandemic, however, it is important that consideration is given to the communities in which applicants are placed.
“The fact that less than 10 percent (9.75%) were placed by the local office and from the Causeway Coast and Glens area,
tells me that in the past year, Portstewart, one of our premier tourist towns, has been in effect a dumping ground for homeless people from across Northern Ireland.
“I in no way want to label everyone that has sought temporary accommodation as being problematic to society, however many of those that have been placed temporarily have addictions, mental health problems and have sadly caused difficulties in our communities.
“I have questioned if support is available to those in temporary placements, or if it is just a case of being left until the problem moves on to some other area of Northern Ireland.
“I know that from speaking to local residents that there is a real fear factor, and that these placements have caused great upset in settled residential areas.
“Indeed recently a District Judge noted the number of defendants before his court with the same temporary address.
“In light of these figures, I have today written to Minister Hargey outlining my concerns, and asking if in future, the Department would consider more consultation with the communities hosting those being temporarily housed to ensure integration.”