The Housing Executive (H.E.) needs to fund an accelerated social housing programme on credit from central government in order to address the worst housing crisis in Derry since the early 1970s.
That’s the stark assessment of Sinn Féin housing spokesman, Councillor Tony Hassan, who believes 400 local families in temporary accommodation is the result of a policy failure that must be addressed.
“The housing situation in the city is the worse I have seen since the early 1970s. At that time the H.E. borrowed millions from central government to build thousands of socials homes in the north. I believe this needs to happen again,” said Colr. Hassan.
Last month, Clark Bailie, the H.E. Chief Executive told members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee that the H.E. does have the power to borrow and has done so in the past in order to fund housebuilding programmes.
However, H.E. borrowing skews the Department for Communities’ (DfC)funding allocation under the block grant, explained Mr. Bailie.
Colr. Hassan believes this needs to change.
“Sinn Féin has consistently argued for a radical shake-up of social housing. We believe that all housing functions should be transferred from the DfC to the H.E.
“Despite considerable problems with the H.E., the demise of that body has brought us to the situation that we find ourselves in today.”
In the meantime, Colr. Hassan, has called for more private landlords in the city to offer their empty properties to the H.E. for use as temporary accommodation.
Colr. Hassan pleaded: “Over the next nine months there will not be as many new social homes ready for allocation in the city and temporary accommodation is needed for the many family’s who will be presenting themselves as homeless.
“There are over 400 families at present in temporary accommodation and the need for more temporary accommodation is essential.
“When a family presents themselves as homeless the H.E. has a duty to get accommodation for them. If a house is not available then the H.E has to find temporary accommodation for that family.”
Last month H.E. West Area Manager Eddie Doherty revealed that during the catastrophic August floods only four private landlords
Mr. Doherty told the committee that it was had been “extremely difficult” getting temporary private accommodation from the private rental sector.