Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

'Northern Ireland's housing waiting list figures hide human stories of misery and deprivation'

The headquarters of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in Belfast
The headquarters of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in Belfast

The list of figures detailing those on the common waiting list for each district Housing Executive just released is a clinical assessment of multiple stories of human misery, deprivation, insecurity and instability.

A list of numbers does not tell a human story. It is a story that, as an elected representative, I hear on a daily basis. We need to be clear about this. Housing is a crisis issue for Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.

The Minister needs to recognise that it is a crisis that is only going to get worse.

As the wider financial crisis hits families, more people are failing to make ends meet and can no longer afford private rented accommodation and others are losing their homes to repossession.

All of this increases the pressure on  social housing. The figures bear this out. For example in Derry, the waiting list for accommodation for Waterloo Place and Collon Terrace offices has increased by 50% in the past five years.

The reality is that the Housing Executive cannot cope with the unprecedented demand and the lack of political leadership that is allowing the situation to fester.

Behind a list of figures are children growing up in over-crowded homes with no security, having to move home and often school in a bid to get settled and there are parents living with stress and uncertainty.

Where is the plan from Minister McCausland to tackle this crisis? Where is the plan to build more social housing? Has due consideration been given to the purchase of housing at a time when the market is at an all-time low? Families all across the north deserve better.