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Ard Fheis 2004 - Ramsey - inequalities remain in housing provision remain

28 February, 2004


Sinn Féin Councillor Sue Ramsey speaking in support of motions 101 and 103 said that 'Inequalities in housing provision acted as a catalyst to the civil rights movement 35 years ago. Despite all the progress that has been made since then, inequalities in housing provision remain to this day.' Ms Ramsey said:

The number of households presenting themselves as homeless in the 6 counties is up 16%, mortgage repossessions are up 25% on last year, the average price of NHBC registered houses is up 10% and Housing Executive stock is down by over 7,000. These figures send out a warning signal.

95% of all new dwellings started in 2002-03 were commissioned by the private sector. This points up a huge imbalance in the building of social housing. Unless there is a radical rethink about meeting the demand for social housing there will continue to be unacceptable increases in homelessness and increased pressure of Housing Executive waiting lists.

These motions demand that there be a significant increase in social housing provision in the six counties. I would like to strongly support this demand -- current provision is totally inadequate. However, it is not just a matter of increasing the amount of investment being put into the development of social housing -- it is also a matter of ensuring that this investment is used to promote equality.

Inequalities in housing provision acted as a catalyst to the civil rights movement 35 years ago. Despite all the progress that has been made since then, inequalities in housing provision remain to this day.

The issue of poor housing has dogged the six county statelet since its inception. It needs to be sorted out once and for all. That will require determination; it will require organisation and it will require resources. None of these are adequately forthcoming at the moment. Until they are, the scourge of inadequate and unequal housing provision will remain. What is needed is for a properly funded Housing Executive to be allowed to fulfil its role in providing a volume of social housing that is sufficient to deal with the needs of the population.

Twelve months ago there were 14,000 homeless applications, these new figures show that since then almost 16,500 people have presented themselves as homeless. We need too help people avoid homelessness, to bring people out of homelessness and to continue to provide support for people escaping homelessness. This requires sustained action and political will

Need for emergency accommodation and support accommodation. Pay tribute to Simon Community for work they carry out and to those organisations who have ensured that this issue remains on the political agenda.We need to radically review the current strategy because the reality is that the current housing strategy is failing to meet need.

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