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Sinn Féin calls for change in allocation of social housing

22 June, 2005

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has written to direct rule Social Development Minster David Hanson urging reform of the housing selection scheme currently operated by the Housing Executive and Housing Associations.

Mr McCann said:

"The current system for the allocation of social housing is unfair and instead of improving the situation is making it worse. While the old system had flaws this new system is causing serious problems not just for those waiting to be housed but also for those implementing the scheme.

"When the current scheme was drawn up it was intended to ensure that people who fell through the loop of the old system had a better chance of being housed. Yet the reality is that the new system has failed. I believe this is because the points system for the various categories actually traps people and that people are left with little chance of getting enough points to be re-housed, particularly people with physical or mental problems. This was one of the categories that the new system was meant to help. It is a similar situation for those languishing in hostel accommodation, where they can be trapped for up to 4 years.

"The new system was meant to solve problems not create them. People, particularly young people are finding themselves trapped and with no chance of being housed.

"Given the serious problem of homelessness amongst young people and the exorbitant and highly inflated rents in the private sector something needs to be done. There are also problems facing families placed in single lets by the Housing Executive, that while welcome for the families, means that they are effectively overlooked in the allocation of social housing as they are classed as being in a house which suits their needs.

"We need to both review the current scheme and initiate change that deals with both the allocation system and also allows those trapped within the system to move on.

"We should allow the Housing Executive and Housing Associations to deal with these problems by changing the allocation system by, for example, awarding extra points to those in hostel accommodation on a yearly or half yearly basis in recognition of the length of stay or by awarding additional points on the basis of medical need as well as a system that gives young people at least a chance of being considered for housing." ENDS

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