Urgent action on ‘housing crisis’ needed with waiting list at ‘record high’ in Derry
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Derry City & Strabane District Council Governance & Strategic Planning Committee have agreed to invite the Department for Communities housing supply unit to address members on how it intends tackling the ‘housing crisis’.
Deputy Chair of the committee, SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell, raised the matter during chairperson’s business.
“The waiting list for people accessing social housing across this city and district now sits at over 5,800 people. It's an increase in over 300 in the last quarter. It's at a record high. Literally the amount of people on social housing waiting lists across this city has never been higher in this city and district with nearly 6,000 applicants.
"That's not 6,000 people. An applicant is one person and they could have a partner, they could have one child, two children.
"The number of people waiting to be housed across the city and district - it could be 15,000 or 20,000 people. The reality is that not enough houses are being built and the current level of construction has just led to spiralling waiting lists for housing.”
Colr. Farrell proposed that council invite officers from the housing supply unit of DfC to the committee to discuss the housing crisis.
Sinn Féin’s Sandra Duffy said: “We are in a situation where we have been facing into a housing crisis for much too long and the fact we have no Executive at the minute is just exacerbating that completely so I think that it would be good to get an update on where we are at with it and the impact that having no Executive is having on housing supply.”
Sinn Féin’s Christopher Jackson suggested housing should be a made a key performance indicator in council performance reports.
"The waiting lists are rising. We need a step change in terms of providing homes. It just jumped at me in terms of our annual performance report, housing needs to be up there in terms of one of our key targets to deliver because to do that, not only is it providing homes for the thousands of people that are on the waiting lists but it also supports council as well in terms of rates-based growth, so it needs to be a focus of ours.”
Independent Gary Donnelly said people are dying while waiting for homes.
“There is a crisis, an absolute crisis. What kicked civil rights off and created the Housing Executive was that whole lack of housing and lack of social housing," said Colr. Donnelly.
He added: "Anybody who is dealing with these issues can see the desperation in the people that we are working with. I have had to remove names from my records of people who never got housed.
"I'm not saying it is a result of them not having that house but it contributed to them no longer being on this earth. It is a massive, massive issue.
"There is probably not a day that someone doesn't get a phone call and at the other end of that line there is a desperate mother or father and when I say desperate I mean really getting it tight.”