Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

1,000 families vying for just 67 social housing properties

Some even leaving holy medals at site in bid to secure home

Around 1,000 families will be competing for just 67 new social housing units in Londonderry, with reports of holy medals being left at the new development by those desperate to secure a home.

Almost 3,000 families and single people are now waiting to be housed in the city, with more than two in three deemed by the Housing Executive as being in housing stress.

A staggering 1,400 applicants have been designated as homeless in Derry,

A further 1,000 families are waiting on homes in Limavady and Strabane, with 140 of these also deemed homeless.

Sinn Fein Derry City councillor Tony Hassan (right) has claimed that around 1,000 applicants will be vying for the 67 new social housing homes on the Apex housing estate.

The Buncrana Road development is nearing completion and consists of three-bedroom and two-bedroom houses, flats and duplexes.

The homes are due to be allocated in December.

While there was no evidence of religious material at the site yesterday, unconfirmed reports suggest some people have been bringing medals and holy water and saying prayers at the site in the hope of divine intervention to help secure a property.

Mr Hassan said the only way to tackle the present social housing crisis in Derry is to introduce new legislation to “end the nightmare of homelessness/housing stress”.

He said: “The number of new social houses that are currently being built in Derry and the amount that are planned for the next few years is not enough to meet the demand. While there are many different elements to the current housing crisis, the problem is still the same.

“There are simply not enough new social homes being built for the numbers on the housing waiting list in Derry and across the North.”

Mr Hassan said the number of people seeking homes on the Buncrana Road “tells you there is a serious crisis in social housing in the city”.

He added: “Access to housing is a basic human right, yet the current housing crisis means that hundreds are trapped on social housing waiting lists.

“More homes are being repossessed and then those people will be looking for social homes. This is a neverending story for the hundreds of people on the homeless waiting lists in the city.

“I believe that the strongest signal that could be sent out from the Department for Social Development and the minister is that they are going seriously tackle the housing crisis head on.

“And that means it must include a commitment for legislation to tackle the crisis that we are currently in.”

Responding to Mr Hassan’s call, a spokesman for the Department for Social Development said: “Social housing is allocated in line with the Housing Executive housing selection scheme on the basis of housing need.”

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