Derry has highest number of homeless in the north
Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has described as “startling” confirmation that the Foyle constituency has the highest number of homeless people in the North while over 1,200 properties are lying empty.
SDLP Social Justice spokesperson, Mr Durkan was speaking after he received a response detailing the figures from Communities Minister Hargey.
Mr Durkan had asked the newly installed minister how many people in each constituency were registered as homeless.
Information provided by the Housing Executive showed that as of December 2019, the total number of applicants in Foyle accepted as homeless stood at 2,526.
The figures were higher than those for any of the four Belfast regions, with only West Belfast coming close with 2,373 housing waiting list applicants deemed homeless. The overall figure for Northern Ireland was 20,592.
In West Tyrone there were 530 registered homeless applicants, while in East Derry there were 818.
Foyle MLA Mr Durkan said: “The Communities Minister confirmed in response to my question that 2,526 people are on the waiting list and deemed homeless, across the Foyle constituency.
“The Minister also confirmed that across the Derry and Strabane Council area, 1,252 homes were empty and not in use.
“These figures are startling and behind the statistics are individuals, families and many children waiting in anguish.
“This is yet another example of the deprivation people in Derry have had to ensure and it is about time we got our fair share and a properly balanced regional economy.
“The time for robust and honest conversations about tackling housing shortages has long past.”
Mr Durkan said it was now time to introduce proactive measures to tackle the issues facing an increasing number of local families.
“Urgent action must be taken before more and more individuals end up on the streets,” he warned.
“That is why the SDLP has consistently called for the creation of a comprehensive 20-year Housing Strategy to address issues including supply, affordability, regulation of the Private Rented Sector and homelessness.”
The Foyle MLA added: “I will be engaging with the Communities Minister and pressing for urgent action at the earliest convenience.”