Housing Minister slammed for ‘scratching the surface’

Mark H Durkan
Mark H Durkan

SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan has slammed the Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland for failing to address acute housing need locally and of “only scratching the surface of the problem.”

Mr. Durkan was speaking after his party secured details of the Social Housing Development Programme for 2013-2016.

It reveals that approximately 600 new builds are planned for the Foyle region.

SDLP Social Development Spokesperson Mr. Durkan said that, the DSD Minister “is only scratching the surface of housing need in this area.”

Among those new builds outlined in the plan designated for ‘urban need’ (social housing) are: In 2013/14, 30 supported housing units at Foyleville, 12 in Foxhill, in excess of 100 at Buncrana Road/Springtown Road, 25 at Foyle Road for the planning year 2014/15 and in 2015/16 125 more homes at Buncrana Road and 65 new builds at St. Peter’s Creggan.

The SDLP Foyle MLA said: “While the building of new social homes in the Derry area will bring benefit to a number of households, it will do little to address the real housing crisis facing thousands of families across the city.”

Figures also secured by the SDLP MLA from the Minister for Social Development suggest that a total of 2,023 people are registered as in housing stress at the Waterside, Waterloo and Collon Terrace offices of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

“A total of 1,202 people are registered as homeless at the same offices - statistics which led the Foyle MLA to claim: “The Minister for Social Development is not doing enough; he is merely scratching the surface of the problem. My office is constantly inundated with calls relating to housing need across the city and quite frankly, this announcement is underwhelming and inadequate.

“The number represents a huge reduction in the number of social houses delivered in the last mandate by the SDLP.

“It shows clearly how the Executive is continuing to fail people on the ground.

“We were the only party to vote against the last budget and we did so for this very reason, we knew that the resources allocated to social housing would not be enough and now the DUP/SF’s failings are manifesting in the daily crisis facing families across Derry.

“My party will be continuing to fight for additional resources to be allocated to social housing and we will not accept any reduction of funding towards new builds at this time of crisis.”