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Sinn Féin will fight to ensure social housing remains in public hands - Fra McCann

8 February, 2014 - by Fra McCann

In this past year up to £70 million has been under spend in the housing budget.

In the past two weeks we have learned that £15 million more than was requested by the Executive in savings has been offered up by a minister who, on the face of it, may seem incompetent because of under spending and other problems with in his department.

But that would ignore the conscious obvious agenda being promoted by Nelson McCausland. The DUP minister has been trying to redefine how need is dealt with, especially in areas of high housing demand such as Derry, North Belfast and West Belfast.

It is quite clear that North Belfast has some of the worst housing need in the six counties, which was identified this week by a UN rapporteur on housing.

At a time when waiting lists sit at 40,000 there are 20,000 of these in housing stress and 19,354 people declared themselves homeless last year.

This is a 5% increase in the last recorded quarter of those presenting as homeless

In my own constituency of West Belfast, which has a waiting list of 3387, 2491 of whom are in housing stress, 326 are in hostels for homeless families, 21O whom are elderly and 998 are families who face a bleak future waiting on a house

Think what £85 million would have done for these people, think of the homes, which could have been built.

This shows you the direction Nelson McCausland and his department are heading

At a time when homeowners have seen the condition of their homes deteriorate and can’t afford repairs.

At a time when the Housing Executive structures are being dismantled by handpicked people from English based housing associations, who know nothing of the sectarian history of house building and allocations in the North.

The minister’s intention is to create three new super housing associations with no chance of need being at the heart of the new structures. We as a party need to send a clear message to Nelson McCausland - enough is enough, we will not stand by and allow you to destroy the future of social housing provision.

We will not allow you to ignore the thousands of people waiting for a home. We will fight to ensure social housing remains in public hands. That is the message we send from this Ard Fheis. END

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