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09 Dec 2021

Foyle MLA Durkan: "Hargey’s housing plan not making dent in waiting lists"

markhdurkan

SDLP's Mark H Durkan: "The current rate of building is falling woefully short of meeting demand."

SDLP Communities Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has said the current rate of social housing buildings across the North is woefully inadequate.

Figures obtained via Assembly Questions from the Department for Communities showed the number of new social homes built in 2020/21 amounted to 1304, with almost 45,000 applicants on social housing waiting lists as of June 2021.

The figures show that at the current building rate it would take over 34 years to clear the existing waiting lists.

Foyle MLA Durkan said the current strategy from Sinn Féin Communities Minister Déirdre Hargey would see waiting lists get even longer and plunge applicants into more misery.

The SDLP is bringing a motion calling on Minister Hargey to increase the supply of social and affordable housing before the Assembly tomorrow.

Mr Durkan said: “The growing numbers on social housing waiting lists indicate the scale of the housing crisis now facing the North.

“Social housing is only one aspect of housing need here in the North and things are only getting worse, particularly in light of the added pressures brought to the sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There are almost 45,000 individual and families in housing need with nearly 31,000 of those determined to be in housing stress.

“Given the current rate of building, a simple assessment of this situation means it would take in excess of 34 years to clear the current waiting list.

“That time frame will be even greater in areas like Upper Bann where just four social homes have been built this year.

“Upper Bann currently has nearly 3000 people on housing waiting lists and to build just four homes to tackle this issue is an insult.

“How can we tell families living in overcrowded properties, staying with family and friends, or people with disabilities in properties wholly unsuitable to their needs, that it will take decades to tackle the housing waiting list?

“The current rate of building is falling woefully short of meeting demand.

“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, with many having already given up hope of finding a home of their own.

“Tackling this crisis demands creative thinking. The Housing Supply Strategy and Private Tenancies Bill will hopefully play their part, but drastic action must be taken before housing demand spirals even further out of control.

“Minister Hargey needs to get a grip on this issue and come up with a plan that will increase the number of houses built and get people off our waiting lists.

“People have been waiting long enough and vague words and promises mean little to those in need of a home.”

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