Foyle MLA says increase in Derry's waiting list for housing is "staggering"

Foyle MLA says increase in Derry's waiting list for housing is "staggering"

Mark H Durkan of the SDLP says: "The time for robust and honest conversations about tackling housing shortages has long past"

Mark H Durkan said the increase in demand for social housing was “staggering” as new figures revealed that more people in the Foyle area are in need of a home.

The figures, which were revealed via Assembly Question from the Department for Communities showed there to be 4593 applicants in Foyle on the waiting list with another 3380 experiencing housing stress.

That represents an increase of 828 during the course of the Covid pandemic .

Across the north of Ireland, 45,000 applicants were still waiting for new accommodation as of June 2021.

Mr Durkan, who is the SDLP's Social Justice Spokesperson as well as an MLA for Foyle, said that action was needed now to get people into homes.

He said: “These figures are startling but somewhat expected given the economic consequences of the pandemic resulting in more and more people experiencing housing stress.

“It is staggering that in the Foyle constituency alone there are nearing five thousand applications for social housing.

“The housing crisis pre-existed Covid although it’s clear that the crisis has deepened significantly in the interim, as evidenced by the 25 per cent increase in applications in just 18 months.

“It’s important to take stock of the lives behind these statistics; to consider that behind each application are individuals, families and many children waiting in anguish.

"The time for robust and honest conversations about tackling housing shortages has long past.

“It is unforgivable that Foyle consistently top of the leagues it wants to be the bottom of and vice versa.

“Housing is an historic issue in Derry and it remains the case that so many families and their children are left without a place to call home or find themselves stuck in overcrowded properties, wholly unsuitable to their needs.

“Housing is yet another example of the deprivation people in Derry have had to endure; and while I welcome the incoming Housing Supply Strategy addressing housing need goes far beyond just building homes.

“Regulation of the Private Sector under the Private Tenancies Bill again is welcome however affordability issues which have become more profound in recent months must be tackled to prevent homelessness in the time ahead.

“Urgent action must be taken before more and more individuals end up on the streets.”

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