Housing Executive tenants living in 20 cottages in south Belfast have called on the Social Development Minister to visit their “forgotten street” to see the homes they describe as “hovels”.
The residents want Minister Margaret Ritchie to see the condition of the Torr Way homes, off the Lisburn Road in Finaghy, which they claim have not been refurbished since they were built in 1953.
Central to residents' concerns is the cramped space inside their houses — the residents want an extension to allow them room to move.
They are also concerned about living conditions in and around their homes — including leaking roofs and dampness in some of the houses.
But the Torr Way Residents' Association said people living there feel neglected and ignored by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), while other areas have been upgraded.
David Garford, 71, uses his garden shed as a wardrobe because he doesn't have enough room for his clothes in the house.
Mr Garford's bedroom, shared with his wife, is around 8ft by 8ft in size and leaves little room to move around their double bed. “We've been onto the Housing Executive for years — now they say they don't have enough money,” he said.
Mary Flynn, 60, who has lived at Torr Way for 26 years, said the residents were promised an extension to their homes around 10 years ago by the Housing Executive but are still waiting.
“This is unbelievable the way we are living. It's like a hovel,” said Mary. “The Housing Executive has a lot to answer for.”
Balmoral Councillor Niall Kelly, who has visited the homes, added: “The bungalows are in urgent need of refurbishment.”
A NIHE spokesperson said: “The Housing Executive has carried out improvements to homes in the Torr Way area over the years through its External Cyclical Maintenance programme. The homes were also included in a proposed major improvement scheme for the Finaghy area.
“However, the collapse of the housing market has led to a significant shortfall in the housing budget. This has had a major impact across all our programmes of work and we have had to defer many of our programmed schemes across Northern Ireland.
“The scheme at Torr Way can not start until funding is available. This is unlikely to be in the foreseeable future, however, that does not mean that we are any less committed to the Finaghy area than anywhere else.”