Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • In 2009/10, 19,000 households presented as homeless, 6,000 of whom had dependent children.  The vast majority of those without dependent children are single people rather than couples.
  • A decade ago, the comparable figures were 11,000 and 4,500.  Over the last decade, the numbers have therefore grown substantially, with most of the growth being among households without dependent children.
  • Two-thirds of those presenting as homeless do not have dependent children and the majority of these are aged 25 or over.
  • In 2009/10, six reasons accounted for almost all of those presenting as homeless.  The largest of these was loss of accommodation with friends or relatives (24%) followed by relationship breakdown (18%).
  • Not every household that presents as homeless is eventually found to be so by the Housing Executive.  Those who are fall into two groups: those deemed to be ‘in priority need’ towards whom the authorities then have a duty to provide housing; and those ‘not in priority need’, towards whom the authorities have no such duty.  The latter are exclusively households without dependent children.  That subset of the homeless who are deemed to be in priority need number about half of all those who present as homeless.

Definitions and data sources

As well as being a serious problem in its own right, homelessness is also a symptom of wider problems about the lack of availability of suitable, affordable housing.  In particular, a person can be homeless – in the sense of not having a home of their own – without lacking a place to stay altogether (‘roofless’).  Rather, a person is homeless if either they have no legal right to occupy their accommodation or if they have no place that is reasonable to continue to occupy.  As a result, homeless people live in a wide variety of circumstances: some are roofless, but others – the great majority – live temporarily with friends or relatives.

The first graph shows, over time, the number of households who presented themselves as homeless in the stated year, with the data split between those with and without dependent children.

The second graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion of households presenting as homeless varies by household type.

The third graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion of households presenting as homeless varies by reason.

The data source for all the graphs is Northern Ireland Housing Statistics.  Note that the data is for those presenting as homeless, not those subsequently accepted as being homeless.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  While there is no reason to believe there is any problem with the underlying data, its does not include many single people who are effectively homeless, as local authorities have no general duty to house such people and therefore many do not apply.