Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Housing Bulletin highlights need for comprehensive strategy to tackle housing crisis

23 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has said that after the £205 million increase in the housing budget announced yesterday that the Minister Margaret Ritchie now has sufficient money to get on with the job of tackling the housing crisis.

His comments come after the publication of the latest Housing Bulletin (coving 1st July - 30th September 2007) by the Department of Social Development.

Mr McCann said:

"For the last 8 months Margaret Ritchie has allowed herself to become the 'do nothing' Minister. Sinn Féin lobbied hard for additional resources in the final budget and following the £205 million housing budget increase announced yesterday she now has sufficient money to get on with the job of tackling the housing crisis.

"We need to hear from the Minister now what she is going to tackle the affordability crisis, particularly as the latest Housing Bulletin highlights the £54,000 or 33.8% increase in the cost of a new home. At the same time there has been a massive 62.7% drop in the number of new houses being built over the same period in 2006.

"We need to hear exactly what Margaret Ritchie is going to do to tackle the homelessness crisis after the same reported revealed that over 4,900 people presented as homeless.

"The figures about new starts within the social housing sector also paint a depressingly familiar picture. Right across the north there are not enough social rented sector or Housing Association starts to begin to meet the level of demand. There are now over 36,000 people on the waiting list for social housing.

"Margaret Ritchie needs to start the process immediately to have these 5,000 new homes provided and brought into the social housing stock without delay. She has been in office for 8 months. Every month we wait on Margaret Ritchie is another month of misery for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"The minister has £1.2 billion worth of land which she can use in discussion with the construction industry to barter land for the building of social and affordable housing. Negotiations with developers need to take place to ensure they are not trying to pre-empt the introduction of Article 40. She needs also to urgently act to bring the thousands of vacant properties are brought into play.

"Margaret Ritchie needs to get on with the job. There can be no more excuse for delay or inaction." ENDS

Note to Editors

Housing Bulletin (coving 1st July - 30th September 2007)

  • The average selling price of NHBC-registered new houses sold was £214,000, an increase of £54,000 (33.8%) on the same quarter in 2006.
  • 583 new NHBC-registered houses were sold, a decrease of 62.7% on the same period in 2006.
  • A total of 4,904 households presented as homeless to NIHE.

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