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Housing Bulletin highlights problem of soaring prices

27 July, 2006

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has said that the latest quarterly Housing Bulletin published today by the Department for Social Development shows that house prices continue to spiral out of control and re-iterated Sinn Féin's call for a Taskforce on Affordable Housing.

Mr McCann said:

"The latest quarterly bulletin shows that the average cost of newly build houses coming onto market has increased by 12.3% on last year, while the price for flats has gone up by nearly 40%.

"There continues to be a huge imbalance in private building with almost 80& of new starts being undertaken by the private sector. While there is an increase in new starts taken forward by the social sector this is still a long way short of meeting the level of demand that exists for social housing.

"Across Ireland house prices are spiralling beyond the reach of ordinary people, particularly first time buyers and young families. The buy-to-let market and the activities of property developers and speculative landlords who are forcing up house prices and rents increasingly dominate the housing market.

"There is also little growth in the provision of social housing and very little progress in the provision of affordable housing. These figures also show that the problem of homelessness is getting far worse with 5,632 households presenting as homeless during the period January to March 2006.

"Every official report highlights the problem, now need to bring together all of those with a responsibility to deliver housing to deliver a solution.

"It is time for a Taskforce on Affordable Housing. This would include the Departments of Social Development, Regional Development, Environment, Finance & Personnel along with the Housing Executive and the umbrella group for Housing Associations and all other organisations with expertise in the housing field.

"Sinn Féin has also repeatedly called for a fundamental review of social housing that looks at the serious levels of under provision that get worse every year because new build targets are not met. A review also needs to define the level of investment in social housing required.

"There also needs to be a clear commitment to fund increased provision of both affordable and social housing. Along with a commitment to deal with the damaging impact of the unregulated buy-to-let market and also how developers, both public and private, commit to delivering targets on both social and affordable housing." ENDS

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