Call to help struggling homeowners
The number of people facing losing their homes in Northern Ireland has more than doubled in the last five years.
With average prices falling from an all time high of £234,000 in 2007 to £113,6145 last year, levels of repossession are far higher than anywhere else in the UK, according to Housing Rights Service.
Anxious homeowners struggling to pay mortgages and who contacted the independent advice charity doubled in the last three months, and court service statistics disclosed there has been a 104% increase in those under threat of having to give up their houses.
Janet Hunter, housing rights director who briefed the Social Development Committee at Stormont on Thursday, said the situation in Northern Ireland was much worse than other regions.
She added: "The number of households contacting us for help is growing on a monthly basis. For the majority of clients, we are able to find a financial solution to allow them to remain in their home. However, the future is very much dependant upon market conditions.
"My concern is that unless both the local economy and the local housing market start to pick up, increased repossessions will be inevitable. This would have a devastating impact on many families' lives."
She called on the government to assist the growing number of families who are in mortgage arrears.
Ms Hunter added: "If more families across Northern Ireland start to lose their homes there will be a human and financial cost to our society. It is critical that support for struggling homeowners is placed at heart of the NI Executive's response to this economic crisis and the Programme for Government must contain a commitment to tackle this issue head-on."