12 Aug 2022

Housing Executive boss admits people in Derry are dying before their housing needs are met

The Chief Executive of the Housing Executive has admitted there have been cases of people who needed adaptations made to their property who have died before the work was carried out. Earlier this week Clarke Bailie (pictured above) pledged to tackle the back log of people with an illness, disability or sensory impairment who are waiting for their housing requirements addressed. Speaking at Tuesday’s monthly meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee, Mr Bailie said: “I am embarrassed to say this, but there have been cases where people who needed work done have passed away.” The committee was informed there are currently approximately 220 ongoing complex needs cases and a further 185 which have not yet been addressed within the North area which covers Derry and Strabane. The Chief Executive told members it was important people got a quick and sympathetic response when they presented with complex needs. “We want to cut the time between someone identifying their need and us addressing it,” commented Mr Bailie. Mr Bailie said The Housing Executive had successfully rolled out a pilot scheme in another area to tackle the issue and hoped to replicate it here. “We take it one the chin we need to pull our socks up,” he added. Speaking at the meeting Eddie Doherty, local Area Manager of the Housing Executive, said the problem was due to staffing issues and measures were being put in place to solve it. Mr Doherty admitted “We need to do our business better.” “I will meet with the other Regional Managers and look at how we can reduce this backlog,” he commented. SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney told the meeting there was only one Complex Needs Officer working within the North area. The role of a Complex Needs Officers includes carrying assessments on behalf of housing associations for people with illness, disabilities or sensory impairments who are looking for social housing. Complex Needs Officers also meet with planners to discuss purpose-built housing solutions for people with disabilities and liaise with Occupational Therapists to help meet people’s needs. ‘Extremely worrying’ “This is an important role which seeks to help support the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Mr Tierney. “However, with only one officer to cover this whole area, the ability to carry out all duties is extremely difficult and those with complex needs are being impacted due to lack of resources. “I understand that there are approximately 220 existing and ongoing cases and 185 new, unassessed cases within this area and this is extremely worrying. “Failure to address this increasing case load is, in my opinion, an inequality in the service for disabled people and the Housing Executive should act to address this and clear any back log as a matter of urgency.” Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue suggested the Housing Executive should change its policy to allow people with complex needs cases to go the District Office of their Council. Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly called for the policy to be changed as quickly as possible as “people are in crisis and it is causing great distress to vulnerable people.”

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