Sinn Féin demand radical shake-up of Social Housing policy
Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has demanded root and branch change in the management of social housing in the Six Counties. Speaking after Sinn Féin submitted its response to the Department of Social Development consultation on the management of social housing Mr McCann said:
"Sinn Féin have consistently argued for a radical shake-up of social housing. We believe that all housing functions should be transferred from the Department of Social Development to the Housing Executive. Ten years ago the Housing Policy Review recommended additional powers be transferred to the Housing Executive, these recommendations have yet to be implemented.
"Despite considerable problems with the Housing Executive, the demise of its' role as a provider of social housing has had led to a social housing crisis because of mismanagement by the Department of Social Development and under provision by the housing association sector.
"While many housing associations provide an excellent service since becoming the key providers of social housing in the north they have failed to keep pace with the demand for social new build. This has led to serious problems for people living in areas of high demand. Housing associations also fundamentally lack transparency and democratic accountability with boards closed to public scrutiny.
"The only reason social new build power was handed to registered housing association in 1996 was the hope that they would draw down private investment. The low rate of social new build exposes the failure of this policy. It is a public duty of government to finance social housing for those most in need in our society.
"We also believe that all revenues generated from housing sales should go back into the social new build programme as additional funding to help start addressing serious under provision.
"In transferring responsibility for social new build to the Housing Executive its' serious flaws must be addressed. It lacks genuine democratic accountability and is discriminatory in its make up. Sinn Féin believe, in line with our policy on Quangos, that it should have a majority of elected representatives appointed through d'Hondt, and the community sector, disabled sector and those marginalised in society on the board." ENDS