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'Not one house provided under North Belfast Housing Strategy between 2007-2008' - Sinn Féin reveals

23 January, 2009 - by Carál Ní Chuilín

"Not one new house has been provided under the North Belfast Housing Strategy between 2007-2008," local Sinn Féin MLA Caral Ní Chuilín has revealed.

The shocking statistic was released by Department of Social Development (DSD) Minister Margaret Ritchie, in response to an Assembly Question.

Describing the revelation as a "scandalous indicator of the Housing Executive and DSD's contempt for the rights and needs of North Belfast", Ms Ní Chuilín said:

"Out of 283 social housing units provided in 2007-2008, the people of North Belfast didn't get one single new house. Every new social housing unit provided was a flat.

"Clearly those responsible for delivering the so-called 'housing strategy' don't believe that families in North Belfast should be permitted the basic dignity of living in a house.

"The mentality which forces the poorest families in our society to either 'take a flat' or 'take a hike' is appalling.

"North Belfast is being badly let down by those responsible for public housing provision.

"I would be interested to know how much of the DSD/Housing Executive budget has been spent on buying up new flats off-the-shelf from 'fat-cat' developers.

"Plans on the NIHE New Build Social Housing Guidelines do not inspire confidence that this issue will be addressed, as this proposed policy would result in a 25% reduction in social housing new build for Belfast as a whole over the next 5 years. There is no indication of how this reduction will be felt in North Belfast, which is still suffering from chronic shortage of social housing.

"Housing in North Belfast - as everywhere - must be provided on the basis of objective need. I want to commend all of those still campaigning for that basic civil right."ENDS

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