Housing Crisis Taskforce for Derry & Strabane as almost 6,000 applicants on social housing waiting list

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Derry City and Strabane District Council is to establish a taskforce to tackle the area’s housing crisis, as almost 6,000 applicants in the district are on housing waiting lists.

The motion was put forward by People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin at a recent Full Council Meeting.

Colr. Harkin also proposed that the Council write to the Minister for Communities, Gordon Lyons, calling for the multi-year building of at least 1,000 social houses a year and “action to reduce the number of empty houses in order to create affordable homes”.

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Currently there are almost 50,000 applicants on the social housing waiting list in Northern Ireland, including almost 6,000 applicants in the Derry and Strabane district alone.

New homes under construction in Templemore.New homes under construction in Templemore.
New homes under construction in Templemore.

Colr. Harkin said the Council had to make “demands on the Executive to address this crisis”.

He added: “It needs to be a priority and there needs to be urgent action. We’ve heard from different representatives from the Department for Communities (DfC), and from social housing departments, about the scale of the crisis and how stretched they are. We’ve also heard that the DfC’s and the Housing Executive’s plans are inadequate.

“Even though there’s has been significant house-building in Derry over the last couple of years, we’ve heard again and again that it’s not going to put a proper dent into the number of people who are homeless or on the housing waiting list.

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“We have to figure out how to make this an absolute priority for the Executive. We need more social houses and affordable homes.

People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin.People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin.
People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin.

“A baseline of at least 1,000 houses a year, and a commitment to do that on a multi-year basis, is the only way we’re going to put a proper dent in the waiting list numbers.”

SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell said people were “fighting for points and patiently waiting every day” for offers, and not enough money was being invested in social housing across all of Northern Ireland.

“The fact is that not enough houses are being built. And regardless of the number of new builds the list continues to grow and grow.

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“The current budget isn’t enough to put a dent in the waiting list, and it’s certainly not enough to build the number of houses that we need to tackle the problem.”

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter