More Empty Homes than Homeless
Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said that it is unacceptable that there are more empty houses lying vacant that there people are on the homeless list.
Mr McCartney said,
"Official figures have revealed there are more homes in Derry lying empty than there are people on the homeless list. These startling statistics were uncovered in a response to an Assembly question tabled by Sinn Féin.
"They show that there are now 1195 people in the Derry District Council area declaring themselves as homeless, almost 200 more than in 2001 when the figure was 1013.
Despite this, in 2006 there were more homes in Derry lying empty than at any time in the last four years. In total, there were 1660 vacant properties compared with 1152 in 2002.
"The figures also show that there were just 61 social houses built in Derry in 2005/06, while in 2002/03 there were 322. Meanwhile, housing association new-builds have fallen from 249 in 200/01 to just 14 last year.
"It is unacceptable that vacant properties are allowed to remain empty for prolonged periods of time. I am calling on Margaret Richie Minister Department Social Development to devise a strategy where a timescale is put on returning empty houses to occupancy as quick as possible so that the homelessness problem is kept to a minimum.
"We must also increase the number of new builds of social housing if we are tackle this problem and ensure that everyone has access to proper accommodation.