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22/09/2021

Residents of the Bogside area in Derry speak of their relief after the Housing Executive suspends the transfer of their homes

(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Residents of an area in the Bogside yesterday welcomed news that all Housing Executive owned properties in the streetwill not be transferred to a housing association. A proposal was put forward by the Minister for Social Development in 2016 to transfer Housing Executive (HE) properties in Rossville Street to a housing association and residents were duly informed. This course of action was decided upon due to uncertainty about the Housing Executive’s future funding situation. However, a transfer could only take place if it received the support of tenants which would be measured through a ballot. Recently, estates in other parts of the country overwhelming voted to remain Housing Executive tenants and the Department for Communities (DFC) has now acknowledged that the Stock Transfer Programme does not have the support of tenants. The decision was therefore taken to suspend the programme until a new minister is appointed and whomever that is will make long-term decisions about it. The Department has now also permitted the Housing Executive to re-instate Stock Transfer estates into its development programme, meaning Rossville Street will be involved in future maintenance schemes as these had been put on hold as part of the Stock Transfer process. Sheila McLaughlin who lives in the street, told the Derry News that she’s ‘delighted with the announcement’ and other residents echoed her views. She added: “If they had been transferred to a housing association then we might not have been able to get any repairs done and there’s a chance they would have increased the rent.” Commenting, the Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan welcomed the news. “Since this transfer of housing stock was first mooted, residents have been anxious about what implications it might have for them and were angry at what seemed to be a lack of regard for their views as tenants,” he said. Common sense “I personally raised these concerns in the Assembly almost two years ago; discussions were ongoing about 'housing units' with scant consideration that these 'units' are families' homes. “We must now seek clarification as to what 'suspension' actually means - will this proposal be revisited in the future? I certainly hope not but residents need peace of mind.” The independent councillor Gary Donnelly added that the ‘vast majority’ of tenants were in favour of remaining with the Housing Executive. He commented: “We were in touch with every house in the Rossville area which would have been include in the Stock Transfer and the vast majority of people who opened their doors were against it. “Common sense has prevailed and I would view that type of process as the beginning of the end for the Housing Executive, when they begin selling off their assets.” Meanwhile, the Sinn Fein councillor for the area, Patricia Logue, added that the news would come as a ‘great relief’ to residents in the street.

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