"There are over 101 homeless families in the Market. This is a travesty when you consider that there is ample land already zoned for social housing in the area."

Market Resident


>> 86%

Of people agree that there is a lack of decent and affordable housing in the Market.

>> Human Rights Indicator

The Market Community Demands a reduction in dissatisfaction with the housing waiting list from 86% to 0% by January 2020.

>> Action

We demand that all necessary steps are immediately taken to solve the homeless crisis by building homes now on the Gasworks; that all other land zoned for housing in the area is safeguarded for that purpose; and that a housing strategy is developed to ensure the long term sustainability of the community.



Children and young persons have the right to special protection against the physical and moral hazards to which they are exposed – Part 1.7 European Social Charter (1961)

Every child has the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and social needs and support their development. Governments must help families who cannot afford to provide this – Article 27, UNCRC (1989)

Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home, and his correspondence – Article 8.1 Human Rights (UK) Act (1998)

All citizens have the right to proper, safe, and healthy housing – Article 16.1 European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City (2002)

Did you know?

There are over 101 homeless families in the Market.

There are over 11,276 families on the housing waiting list.

Over 8000 homeless families throughout Belfast.

Figure 3: This map shows in pale orange the ample land surrounding the Market area currently lying vacant or used as carparks
– which could solve the housing crisis locally within a few years.

The Housing Catch 22:

Real Need Unknown

All human rights frame works recognise the right to family life as fundamental. But what type of family life is possible if you and your children are homeless? What is more degrading and inhuman for a child than to go without a safe and secure home? For the right to life and family to have any meaning, the right to housing must also be guaranteed. Because of the lack of social housing in the Market, families need extremely high points to be considered eligible for a home. This means:

Many families don’t even bother registering at all.

Many people are also advised by statutory agencies to change their preferences to other areas where the demand for housing is lower.
This is illegal.

The resulting: figures are skewed by these factors and not reflective of the actual housing need in the area.

Do you or a family member need a home? Then make sure you’re registered!

The Market Housing Crisis

The Market community is in the midst of a housing crisis. Official figures released by the Housing Executive in March 2018 show that while there are over 100 homeless families on the waiting list year after year, there had only been 15 allocations in 2017. The latest Multiple Deprivation Measures place the wider area among the top 21 % of most deprived areas in terms of Housing, Accommodation and Living Environment. The housing figures only list individual cases seeking homes, and do not reflect the wider number of dependents
– i.e. children. If taken into account the figures would increase dramatically. That an overwhelming number of residents (86%) believe that there is a ‘lack of decent and affordable housing’ in the Market is therefore unsurprising. All this points to the obvious: the Market is suffering a housing crisis. 


The Long-Term Damage

This reflects the wider Belfast story of a well­known, yet undeclared, housing crisis. A report by the Northern Ireland Audit Office stated that homelessness had increased by 32% in the five years up to November 2017, 55 with Belfast alone having 10,100 homeless families as of June 2018.56 Homelessness has many long­term detrimental effects on society, but the negative impact of homelessness is felt most perniciously by children, which another report from November 2017 described as “extreme and extensive,” noting that 

Children affected by homelessness often felt an overwhelming sense of displacement, having lost a place that felt like home. This led to a number of practical, emotional and behavioural challenges. Practical challenges included keeping track of possessions and uniform, limited access to bathroom and laundry facilities and no quiet place to do homework. Homelessness could also cause severe emotional trauma leading to emotional stress, anxiety and problematic behaviours. Whereas younger children often became withdrawn, older children could also become angry or aggressive at times. 57

Homeless children face a litany of mental and physical health problems, and “are not simply at risk; most suffer specific physical, psychological, and emotional damage”, the impact of which is felt well beyond childhood as “homelessness influences every facet of a child’s life – from conception to young adulthood. The experience of homelessness inhibits the physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioural development of children.”58 Poor mental health is a recurring theme in the specialist literature, as “homeless children are three to four times more likely to have mental health problems than other children. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression have also been linked to overcrowded and unfit housing,”59 as without a stable and secure environment.

Homeless children are confronted with stressful and traumatic events that they are often too young to understand, leading to severe emotional distress. Homeless children experience stress through constant changes, which accumulate with time. These stressful changes result in a higher incidence of mental disorders. 60

Impact on Communities:

This has an impact beyond the individuals and families concerned, causing widespread social dislocation within communities and wider society. One report has noted that “the lower educational attainment and health problems associated with bad housing in childhood impact on opportunities in adulthood” as “long-term health problems and low educational attainment increase the likelihood of unemployment or working low-paid jobs.”61 Homelessness also causes a wider financial strain with the Northern Ireland Audit Office recently stating that

In the five years to 2017 at least £226 million of public funding was provided for measures to prevent and deal with homelessness. In addition, welfare costs of £65 million in the form of Housing Benefits were incurred. There are wider financial costs across public services that arise from homelessness. For example, costs associated with chaotic use of the health service and repeat interaction with the criminal justice system. There is no doubt that the social costs of homelessness are significant and would be far greater without this public expenditure. 62

Residents launching the campaign at the Gasworks, August 2017

Solving the Market's Homeless Crisis:

Our Actions for Government

We are therefore faced with the bizarre situation in which the costs of homelessness – both social and financial – far outweigh the costs of actually building new homes. There are over 101 homeless families in the Market. This is a travesty when one considers that there is ample land already zoned for social housing in the area. Most of this land is already in the public hands. There are housing associations with the money and the will to start building. What is lacking is a political will at the statutory level with both Belfast City Council and the Department for Communities. The Market Community and its homeless families have a right to housing. We demand that necessary steps are immediately taken to solve the homeless crisis by building homes now on the Gasworks; that aII other land zoned for housing in the area is safeguarded for that purpose; and that a housing strategy is developed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the community, and that this is implemented in tandem with the other Market Human Rights Indicators. 

Have you been affected by any of these issues?

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