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Homeless figures grow in Derry and Strabane Council area despite rise in social housing

By Donna Deeney

Published 03/09/2015

2,107 are registered as homeless in the Derry and Strabane Council area
2,107 are registered as homeless in the Derry and Strabane Council area

Homelessness has jumped by 15% in the Derry and Strabane Council area over the past 12 months, new figures have shown.

This brings the number of people registered as homeless to 2,107 despite the construction of the highest number of social houses in Londonderry area for decades.

Earlier this year separate planning approval was given for the construction of more than 1,600 new homes including a variety of house types in Skeoge Lands, Lenamore Road in the city side, and Drumahoe and Tullyalley in the Waterside.

Sinn Fein councillor Tony Hassan said that despite this unprecedented level of housing provision, the Housing Executive figures showed the there would still be too many people without their own home.

“I have people coming into my office on a day and daily basis presenting as homeless but the harsh reality is they face two or three Christmases in temporary accommodation before they get enough points for their own house,” he said.

“Over the past three years there has been more social houses built in Derry than I can ever recall, but it is isn’t enough.

“A big injection of money that will allow Housing Associations to either build more houses or buy houses lying vacant in private developments is the only thing that will bring the level of homelessness down but the reality is that isn’t going to happen.”

The figures were brought before Derry City and Strabane District’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee meeting by the acting chief executive of the Housing Executive, Clarke Bailey.

Mr Bailey admitted it would be a challenge to reduce the level of homelessness but said the Housing Executive had a number of options.

“We are working very closely with our partners in the housing associations and in the department,” he said.

“We do have an ambitious new build programme and we are also very keen to be as innovative as we can so we are looking at other possible sources of home for people who need social housing support.

“We are doing the best we can and as much as we can but it is very challenging — but it’s one which we are focused on.”

“There are some people on the streets but it probably isn’t as many as you would expect,” he told councillors on Tuesday.

“We do find that people are in different forms of accommodation.”

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