Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Concern over lack of timeframe for action on housing

20 July, 2007

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has called on the minister for social development, Margaret Ritchie, to spell out the timeframe for the Taskforce to deliver its plan of action on the recommendations of the Semple housing review on the issue of affordability and social housing.

Mr McCann said:

"The housing minister has said her taskforce will report back their findings on how we move foreword with a strategy to end the housing crisis, yet there is no timeframe for the delivery of this action plan.

"When 5791 people declared themselves homeless in the first 3 months of this year, we don't need is sound bite politics we need action.

"Sound bites mean nothing to the young single people who are not accepted as homeless because of their age and their health? It means nothing to the 566 people whose homes have been repossessed in the first quarter of this year, which although slightly lower than last year only serve to highlight the inability to kick start a social and affordable housing programme?

"I believe that only when we get the timeframe for action in place will we find a way out of this mess and create an affordable social housing market for those who have been frozen out of the housing market by speculators or fallen foul of the continued hike in interest rates.

"The department of Social Development and Housing Executive together has more than £1 billion worth of land under their control. Let's use this land to negotiate with the construction industry in a land for houses programme and let's implement article 40 of the planning order to ensure all new private build has 20% of its developments set aside for social and affordable housing.

"The launch this week of the department's document on social inclusion in homelessness took 4 year - 6 months to compile and three and a half years to release. Let's hope that the current review takes a lot less time than that." ENDS

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