525% hike in pop-up B&B spend

Fears have been raised Derry is becoming ‘a destination for temporary accommodation tourism’ following a 525 per cent hike in expenditure on emergency housing over the past five years.
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Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan has expressed serious concern about figures obtained from the Housing Executive (NIHE) which show the amount of money spent on single lets, hotels, B&Bs and specialised accommodation in Derry/Strabane rose from £929,965 in 2018/19 to £5,815,335 in 2022/23.

The NIHE data show 41 per cent of known area spending on temporary accommodation for 2022/23 was spent in Derry/Strabane and that more money was spent on emergency housing in the city and district last year (£5,815,335) than was spent across the whole of the North in 2018/19 (£5,797,545).

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More money is being spent here than in Belfast (£3,693,826). The lowest spends in Mid & East Antrim (£210,196) and Causeway Coast and Glens (£211,172) are tiny by comparison.

Mark H. DurkanMark H. Durkan
Mark H. Durkan

Mr. Durkan said: “These figures are startling. We’re talking colossal expenditure in the Derry & Strabane area for the provision of temporary and emergency accommodation.

"While I appreciate there is great housing need in the city, questions need to be asked as to why the spend in this council area is significantly higher than anywhere else in the North. It is deeply concerning that spend has increased six-fold since 2018/19.”

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Mr. Durkan expressed concern that Derry is becoming what he described as a destination for ‘temporary accommodation tourism’.

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“I fully appreciate the efforts made and challenges faced by the Housing Executive to ensure people have a roof over their head but I’m concerned that places, like Derry, have become destinations for temporary accommodation tourism.

"Very vulnerable and at times volatile individuals from across the North are being placed in Derry away from their support network; this FOI is unequivocal proof of that.

"My constituency office is inundated with visits from vulnerable individuals placed in Derry with no means of travel, away from family and friends, suffering in the absence of support.

"At the same time families from Derry are being told that temporary accommodation isn’t available. How then can that be when £6 million was spent on its provision in Derry alone last year?”

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A Housing Executive spokesperson said: “We have seen a significant rise in demand for temporary accommodation over the last number of years and unfortunately this demand has been largely met by an increase of the use of hotels, B&Bs that has added to the overall costs of providing temporary accommodation.”

Area Manager for Derry City and Strabane, Eddie Doherty, explained: “We are working in very challenging circumstances to meet the demand for temporary accommodation in the West area.

“The social housing waiting list for our local area has been steadily rising with an increase in housing stress since 2018 where allocations of permanent stock are not meeting the demand.

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“This has created increased demand on use of non-standard accommodation for people who present as homeless.

“This type of accommodation can include single lets, hotels, B&Bs and specialised accommodation.

“It is only made available as a short term measure in order to meet immediate need and there is a strong emphasis on moving an individual homeless applicant as quickly as possible to alternative standard temporary accommodation or, in some cases, permanent housing.

“We are committed to finding solutions to overcome the rising demand for temporary accommodation.

“We have been working with other colleagues across the Housing Executive and with a number of existing providers to establish a new supported housing project in the area.

“This is a substantial project of approximately 40 units of support accommodation and once all relevant approvals are in place, it is planned that this project will up and running in Spring 2024.”