‘Young people losing out on social housing’

Derry City & Strabane District Sinn Fein Councillor Tony Hassan has called for more social housing.
Derry City & Strabane District Sinn Fein Councillor Tony Hassan has called for more social housing.

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has warned that insufficient social housing and extensive waiting lists could result in young people requiring their first home never being offered social housing.

Colr. Hassan was speaking following a recent presentation by the Housing Executive’s Chief Executive Clarke Bailie, during which he detailed for plans for Derry & Strabane over the next five years.

Speaking about the presentation, Colr. Hassan said Mr Bailie had outlined that over 3,000 families are in housing stress and homeless in the council area, and that 2,550 social homes are needed in the next five years.

“I believe the situation is a lot worse and more stark than that,” the Sinn Fein housing spokesman said. “While I do except that more social homes have been built in the last two years, and next year will see the biggest amount of social homes for over the last five years, there is still is not enough social homes built to eat into the waiting lists in the Derry area.

“The Chief Executive of the Housing Executive along with the Department of Communities needs to be putting in place a strategy that would see an injection of money that would see thousands of new builds for the 20,000 people who are deemed homeless in the north of Ireland.”

Colr. Hassan added: “In 2017 it is a right for people to have a roof over their heads and this basic human right is still being denied to hundreds of people in this city and thousands throughout the North.

“It’s a situation that I believe will only deteriorate unless radical changes are introduced to the way housing is dealt with.”

A Housing Executive spokesperson responded that it is I”due to make a significant investment during 2017/18 in the Derry City and Strabane area to support the delivery of new homes”. She added: “£30.5 million will be invested in upgrading and maintaining its properties, supporting people to live independently, increasing the energy efficiency of homes and providing grant aid in the private sector.

“Through its landlord and regional services, last year the Housing Executive invested £50.65 million in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. This includes grant aid to housing associations for the building of new houses to rent.

“Currently there are 690 units on site and an additional 1,161 units programmed for Derry City and Strabane District Council area within the next three years. This is against an identified five year (2016-21) social housing need projection of 2,552 units.

“In terms of the waiting list and allocations, in general, allocations are made to applicants in greatest housing need, in accordance with the Rules of the Housing Selection Scheme and is dependent upon a number of factors including demand, availability of properties and the number of re-lets. We continue to work with the Department for Communities and housing associations to meet social housing need in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.”