Big changes to social housing allocation: Local people urged to give views

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Local people have been urged to have their say on proposals to change how social housing is allocated.

Among the 20 new proposals from the Department for Communities is cutting the number of reasonable housing offers issued to those on the waiting list will be cut from three to two.

Other proposals include a greater choice of areas for all applicants and more emphasis on time waiting.

A presentation on the public consultation event will take place in the City Hotel in Derry on Monday, November 13 from 10am to 12 noon with the ‘drop-in’ session from 12.noon to 1.00 p.m.

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, Councillor Tony Hassan welcomed the consultation and an associated equality impact assessment.

He said: “I welcome confirmation of this review as it is something Sinn Féin has been seeking for a considerable time. There are huge issues in the process of allocating homes and there needs to be much better transparency with regards to how allocations are processed and the criteria used.

“Young families in Derry in temporary accommodation with 130/150 points will not get an allocation of a house unless the points system is changed and some of these families will be spending their third Christmas in temporary accommodation. Other families who have 160/170 points will find it hard to get an allocation.”

He added: “Sinn Féin has consistently raised a particular problem around the issue of intimidation points and how alleged intimidation and harassment is verified. The allocation of housing should be based on genuine objective need and I would encourage the public to engage with the consultation in order to help shape future housing policy.”

The Department for Communities consultation is now open and will run until December 21, 2017.

The Housing Executive’s current Housing Selection Scheme, the system for assessing housing need and allocating social homes, has been in place since 2000.

A spokesperson for the Department said: “The Department recognises the need for changes to the current Housing Selection Scheme and has, therefore, launched a public consultation on its proposals on how to make the allocations process more fair, transparent and effective for all.

“The proposals build on the strengths of our current allocations system and put forward proposals, informed by entirely independent research, on how the system can be improved.

“The review aims to tackle the long waiting times many face and address the needs of our most vulnerable applicants, by placing more emphasis on time waiting, based on similar levels of need.

“The Department would be keen to hear the views of all those interested in this important issue.”

The full proposals can be veiwed online at: www.communities-ni.gov.uk/consultations/fundamental-review-social-housing-allocations. Responses can be made online, or sent to allocations@communities-ni.gov.uk or Social Housing Policy Team, Department for Communities, Level 3, Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7EG.