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27/10/2021

Durkan: "Failure to provide a roof over one’s head is a failure of governance"

Durkan: "Failure to provide a roof over one’s head is a failure of governance"

SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H Durkan, has demanded the Executive do more to ease the housing crisis in his constituency

Foyle MLA, Mark H Durkan, has called on the Executive to commit to ending homelessness and provide increased support for the most vulnerable in our society.

Ahead of World Homeless Day, October 10, the SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson said and the day should be used as an opportunity to recommit to action to tackle the housing crisis.

The Foyle constituency in particular has its own issues with housing as figures last month showed there to be 4593 applicants in Foyle on the waiting list with another 3380 experiencing housing stress.

Mr Durkan said: “Failure to provide a roof over one’s head is a failure of governance. Yet homelessness remains a reality in our society.

“The importance not just of shelter but of having somewhere to call home has never been keener felt than throughout the COVID pandemic. It makes World Homeless Day and the fight against homelessness particularly poignant this year.

“Access to a safe and secure home is the foundation on which people build their lives and by extension the building blocks for a thriving society.

“Nobody should have to sleep on the street or call a hostel room their home. We cannot accept this as normal but it is a reality for an increasing number of individuals and families in Northern Ireland – with B&B, hostels and temporary accommodation buckling under the weight of demand.

“Housing waiting lists have never been higher and will likely soar as the fallout of the pandemic hits our communities.

“We are already witnessing an increase, particularly in private renters being forced out of their homes due to affordability issues and rising rents.

“In my own constituency of Foyle alone, there are currently 3,380 people determined to be in housing stress. That represents an 828 increase over the course of the pandemic.

“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.

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

“While I welcome the incoming Housing Supply Strategy, addressing housing need, homelessness and homelessness prevention goes far beyond just building homes. Urgent action must be taken before more and more individuals end up on the streets.”

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