Thousands of Derry homeless can have a say on housing shake-up

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack.
SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack.

The thousands of Derry people who are homeless or in housing stress are being urged to have their say on a radical review of the social housing allocation system that proposes scratching intimidation and temporary accommodation points from the process.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack has called on people to respond to the Department for Communities’ ‘Fundamental Review of Social Housing Allocations,’ which is out for public consultation until Christmas.

Among DfC’s proposals are the recommendations that intimidation points and interim accommodation points should be removed from the selection process. The department is also proposing that “points should reflect current circumstances for all applicants” and that applicants should be placed into “bands based on similar levels of need to meet long-standing housing need more effectively”.

Social landlords will also be given the flexibility to offer difficult-to-let properties to multiple applicants under the proposals.

Colr. Cusack said it was vital people had their say on the proposed overhaul.

She said: “ Living in and area where thousand of families are languishing on the Housing waiting lists with little or no prospect of being offered a home in the near future, due due reaching a deadlock with their points or their situation, something drastic needs to change to improve the system.

“The process for allocating properties, as many people know, is a point system awarded for certain criteria and ultimately the higher the points the more likely you’ll get an offer.

“Dealing with housing issues daily, I can understand and appreciate that this system is not working for everyone and sometimes open to abuse. It is frustrating to see individuals with either disabilities or in certain circumstances which make their need great but have no point value.”

Colr. Cusack said she welcomed DfC’s recognition that the time had come to look into the system to see where improvements can be made in order to “be as fair and balanced as possible and that those in greatest housing need receive priority with recognition of their time in need”.

“With suggestions such as removing intimidation point which at 200points which in one go can project a case to the top of the list, to widening areas of choice to the home-seeker, I believe it is essential that the public who this rethink sets to serve should make their opinions heard,” said Colr. Cusack.