Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Time for Minister to begin to set out strategy to tackle housing crisis

8 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Fra McCann MLA has said that 2008 must be the year that we finally put in place a strategy to tackle the housing strategy that is affecting the most vulnerable people in our society.

Mr McCann said:

"There are now more people waiting for social housing than at any other time in the last 35 years. The numbers of people who are homeless are at record levels and despite the slow down in the housing market many thousands of people, particularly first time buyers have no chance of securing affordable housing.

"The Minister has now been in office for 8 months and yet all we hear is excuse after excuse. Sinn Féin will do all in our power to support Margaret Ritchie but at some point she has to indicate what it is she intends to do to begin to tackle the crisis in social and affordable housing.

"Sinn Féin have identified a number of measures that should have been taken long before now. Even though legislation exists under article 40 which compels developers to set aside up to 20% of developments for social and affordable housing, Minister Ritchie has not yet prioritised this one element of her review which by now could have ensured a steady stream of houses from its implementation.

"In the last number of years there has also been considerable underspending across all government departments running into many hundreds of millions even cutting this back would produce additional resources for investment in education, and particularly youth services, health and social housing.

"Minister Ritchie should start showing leadership and initiative. Eight months have passed and little direction has been shown." ENDS

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