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Volume 403: debated on Monday 7 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to tackle the growing levels of homelessness in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [107438]

Both the Department for Social Development and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive recognise that the numbers of those presenting as homeless are increasing. However, homelessness is not just about bricks and mortar and many of the causes leading to homelessness are not within the control of either the Department or the Housing Executive.The Secretary of State's Plans and Priorities indicate our commitment to help those unfortunate enough to become homeless. The Government are committed to:

investing £5 million to provide 75 new accommodation units specifically to assist homeless people;
implementing new arrangements for providing housing support services to over 9,000 vulnerable people living in the community, helping to sustain and improve the existing support services provided to the homeless; and
drawing up an interim report from an inter-departmental, cross sectoral Promoting Social Inclusion Review Group which is being set up to consider the causes of homelessness and the needs of homeless people.

In addition the Housing Executive works with a wide variety of statutory and voluntary organisations to help deal with homeless issues.