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Immediate steps needed to tackle housing crisis

21 May, 2007

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has said that there are a number of immediate steps that could begin to tackle the housing crisis.

Speaking at Stormont today Mr McCann said:

"I believe that there are immediate steps which can be taken to assist this process like the release of land; the freeing up of vacant property - an issue I will be dealing with later in another motion; ensuring that social building schemes are delivered on time and on programme, to set a target of at least 3000 social homes per year - double what was set for the past year and 5 times that which has been set for the next year.

"It is my understanding that just over 600 new starts are planned for the next year, and that will certainly not impact on this crisis, especially when the numbers presenting as homeless is around 20,000 per year.

"Lets look at the Omagh council area; in 06-07 the number of new houses built there was zero, and the same for Cookstown, Magherafelt and Moyle; Down, Limavady and Larne faired no better. Coleraine faired a little better with 3 houses being built and Strabane - had a good year - with 9 houses being built.

"Sinn Fein have for some time been calling for the discussion on social housing to be widened to take more than the usual suspects. We should involve Shelter, Housing Rights, Simon, Travellers representatives, those representing the disability sectors, the construction sector and so on.

"It should be time framed and tasked to come up with a strategy that can take us forward in the development of mixed tenure and sustainable communities - which after all is one of government's priorities." ENDS

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