‘Sofa surfing is a major issue’ – McAteer

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Monday, September 12th, 2016
Community, Politics
Independent Newry City Councillor Kevin McAteer has stated that sofa surfing is a very real and serious issue that is set to get worse. sofa1He warned that it can result in people living on the streets. With the Housing Executive figure standing at 360 who have presented themselves as homeless by the end of July 2016, Councillor McAteer is concerned that it could get worse. Speaking to Newry Times, the Independent Councillor stated, “According to Housing Executive figures 360 people have presented themselves as homeless by the end of July 2016. The question is how many of that figure is sofa surfing? People need to understand that homelessness does not necessarily mean those who live on the street. “There are a lot of hidden homeless, for example those who sleep on a friend or family member’s sofa or floors. This can result in that person sleeping on a different sofa every night of the week. “
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September 2016McAteer said that he is speaking from personal experience as it was revealed last year that he was homeless for a couple of months in the summer of 2013, roughly 9 months before he got elected. “When I was homeless myself I spent many nights sleeping on a different friend’s sofa, staying in a different house for a day or two and then moving onto the next one. This is a very real issue that tends to be overlooked. “I am also concerned at the mental health issue that goes with it. I know from experience that being in that position can be detrimental to a person’s mental health. “More needs to be done to tackle this issue, for example more temporary accommodation, quicker response times to place someone in accommodation and more one bedroom accommodation. McAteer added, “Furthermore we need to work closely with our homeless outreach groups such as Newry Helping the Homeless, the Simon Community and Tuff Cycle who have done a tremendous job as of late to tackle the homeless issue in Newry, they should be commended for their amazing work.”
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