Expert warns of housing crisis

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A Derry based housing expert has warned the chronic shortage of social and affordable housing in the North is only going to get worse.

Magee based University of Ulster Professor of Housing and current President of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Professor Paddy Gray says current government policies are at risk of creating “a chaotic, unsafe and unhealthy housing future.”

Professor Gray was speaking at the the CIH Presidential Dinner in London. He told members he simply could not understand how, in the 21st century and in an advanced western democracy, there is not enough affordable housing for people in need.

Professor Gray says the proposed cut of 30% to the social housing budget at Stormont will lead to a significant reduction in the number of new houses being built.

“In reality that means that around 1,000 homes will be built each year from 2011 to 2015 and that is despite the Housing Executive estimating that we need 2,500 new homes per year, which will create a shortfall of around 6,000 dwellings.

“Waiting lists for social housing are already high in Northern Ireland with around 40,000 households requiring social housing in the current economic climate when many households cannot buy property in the private sector due to restrictions on the availability of mortgages.

“If we can’t make the case for housing investment on the basis of more time in temporary accommodation for vulnerable or growing numbers of homeless people, then we need to make it on the basis of promoting economic growth and tackling unemployment.”

Professor Gray says the onus is on government to tackle the crisis through adopting a progressive and forward looking approach.”