Women who become homeless in Northern Ireland are dying 40 years early, the Human Rights Commission warned.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby said the Government was not meeting its human rights obligations.

He took part in a panel discussion in Belfast for homelessness awareness week.

Mr Allamby said: “Everyone in Northern Ireland deserves the right to an adequate standard of living and a safe and secure place to live and this is clearly not being met.

“The responsibility lies with Government and the relevant public providers to meet their human rights obligations.

“They should actively engage with organisations dealing with homelessness to develop practical solutions to address homelessness collaboratively.”

People view an exhibition on Homelessness by members of Belfast’s Westcourt Camera Club at the ArtCetera Studio in the city (Niall Carson/PA)

He said average life expectancy for homeless people sleeping rough or residing in shelters and homeless hostels was 43 for women and 48 for men.

He added: “In practice women are losing 40 years and men 30 years of life expectancy.

“We acknowledge that homelessness and its causes is a complex issue in Northern Ireland.

“However the current picture is unacceptable.”

In 2017/18, 18,180 households presented as homeless to the NI Housing Executive, with 11,877 being accepted as full duty applicants.

The number presenting as homeless fell by 2.1% and the number of accepted full duty applicants decreased by 0.1% from 2016/17.

Of the full duty applicants, half are single.