03 March 2006

Nationalist politicians blast the latest housing figures


The Housing Executive have been told they must work harder to provide housing for nationalists in North Belfast after the latest figures released show the housing stress list has lengthened.
In the annual Housing Market Review published this week the figures for the period betwen 2002 and 2005 show that the number of people registered as being in urgent need of a house rose by 14 per cent in North Belfast and an even larger 16 per cent if you take into account those registered who have less than 30 points. These people are not included in official Housing Executive statistics because they are deemed to already live in adequate accommodation.
In another shocking statistic, figures show that despite a new homeless strategy that has been implemented by the Housing Executive, the number of people registered as being without a home rose by 10 per cent.
Commenting on the figures, North Belfast Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Caral Ní Chuilin said the figures were damning and raised equality issues because of how they impacted on nationalists.
“Despite their attempts to relocate families and move them into adequate accommodation the figures show it obviously isn’t happening at a pace that meets the need of the people who are living in poor conditions.
“They really need to look at buying more land for housing. The Department for Regional Development needs to take into consideration that land purchased in North Belfast is well above the average price in comparison to other parts of the city and if they are serious about addressing the homelessness problem they have to do it based on need. Their homeless strategy is failing and their North Belfast housing strategy is not far behind it.”
She added: “I am concerned about the equality and human rights implications regarding these latest figures and I will be seeking further advice on it because of the impact on nationalists.”
North Belfast SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said he also had concerns about how the figures were rising.
“This is something that I have been aware of for quite some time. There has been a very significant increase in housing stress, it is a deplorable situation and one that reflects a growing increase in housing stress throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland.
“We have our own particular problems in North Belfast and those problems are exacerbated by the absense of building land but I do believe that the Housing Executive, having spoken to them about the situation, are committed to resolving it. The windfall sites of Torrens and Girdwood will do much to relieve the pressure over the next two or three years but we are going to continue to have a short-term housing crisis in relation to the Catholic community in North Belfast.”
Calling on the Housing Executive to do more, he said that movement needed to be made on the Girdwood site
“I want to see the Housing Executive doing more and I want them to review the North Belfast Housing Strategy, I also think that in relation to Girdwood the development plans for that should be given a top priority and should be expedited.”

Journalist:: Evan Short

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