Belfast Telegraph

Derry housing crisis feared as block is put on new builds

By Brendan McDaid

No social housing will be built in the Waterside area of Londonderry in the coming year — despite a growing waiting list in the city, it has been confirmed.

Sinn Fein councillor Tony Hassan said there was now a “crisis in social housing” in Derry.

The Housing Executive blamed budget cuts for the lack of new builds.

In the past year alone over 800 applicants have presented as homeless, with over 500 being housed in emergency accommodation.

Housing Executive bosses were grilled over their plans for the coming year at this week’s meeting of Derry City Council’s policy and resources committee.

“We have no proposed social development houses for the Waterside area. If we had 500 social homes today we could allocate them by tomorrow, and we would still have a social housing crisis in the city,” said Mr Hassan.

“We need more money and more houses and if we don’t get to grips with this problem we are going to have this situation going on for the next 10 years.”

DUP councillor Joe Miller said that representatives across the Waterside and rural wards were seeing increasing number of people coming with housing queries.

“As a councillor I have been dealing with the Housing Executive on a daily basis for 24 years and I have never seen it as bad in my area in the Waterside,” he said.

“A big issue for us in the Waterside, and areas across Northern Ireland, is the lack of new builds.”

Mr Miller also stressed that the current review of the points allocation system would not change the fact that there are “more people looking for less and less”.

However NIHE area manager Sean Mackie vowed that the Waterside “has not been forgotten”.

He added: “I accept there is nothing in the programme. We will review the situation.”

A total of 13 social housing schemes with 250 homes went on site last year, plus one supported scheme with nine units.

There are four general needs schemes set for 2011/12, which will deliver 82 homes.

Factfile

Since 2007, the waiting list for social housing in the Derry City Council area has increased from 2,293 to 2,829 applicants.

Despite this, around £2m less has been budgeted to be spent in the city during 2011/12, with a total allocation of £17.3m.

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