SINN Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has said that housing statistics released by the Department of Communities is not accurately reflecting the levels of homelessness in the North.
Tony Hassan said: “The statistics point out that 18,628 people have presented as homeless, which is 1,000 down on the same period as last year.
“On the face of it this would be welcome news.
“My concern is this is more to do with people being directed away from going through with their homeless application by the new Housing Solutions team set up by the Housing Executive.
“This I believe has more to do with statistics than providing a long-term solution in dealing with homelessness.
“Many of those coming forward are being encouraged to move into unregulated private rented housing, convinced that they will wait years to be housed and therefore they withdraw their application.
“The new system also takes away contact and decisions from local Housing Executive offices.
“I believe an urgent review of how this new system is working is required.
“The full scale roll out should be stalled until we establish if this new system is working or is just another move to hide the true figures of people declaring themselves as homeless.
“I have in the past also raised concerns about those who are not accepted as being homeless, the 7,426 who are left to their own devices.
“The vast majority of these are young people who are being told that the Housing Executive has no responsibility to house them.
“Many of these are vulnerable young people who are sleeping on sofas, floors or end up in shared rented accommodation totally unsuitable for their needs.”