Plans for more social housing inadequate, says O’Dowd

Sinn Fein MLA outside the NIHE offices in Craigavon
Sinn Fein MLA outside the NIHE offices in Craigavon

Just 57 new homes for Upper Bann over the next two years isn’t enough to meet the massive social need, says Sinn Fein.

MLA John O’Dowd pointed to 2,162 applications for social housing in Upper Bann saying: “It simply doesn’t add up.

The MLA met the Housing Executive as part of a series of meetings with the Department for Communities and Housing Associations to discuss social need.

Mr O’Dowd said; “There needs to be delivery of more social housing in Upper Bann and in particular in areas of highest need such as North Lurgan and rural communities such as Derrymacash and Derrytrasna.

“There are 2162 applications for social Housing In Upper Bann with 465 of those in North Lurgan yet the response from the Housing Executive and Housing Associations is to provide just 57 new homes over the next two years. It simply does not add up.

“Whilst I acknowledge further plans are in the pipeline what is needed now is delivery - house building programme and purchase of homes to meet the real need that is out there.

“Housing stress is a reality for far too many families with little hope that a new home will be provided in the near future.

Mr O’Dowd said: “While some progress has been made following the series of meetings I have held with the Housing Executive and others over this last number of months, we need to see bricks and mortar being built.

“Sinn Fein will continue to campaign on this matter until homes are built.

A Housing Executive spokesperson said: “On Thursday 13th December, staff from the Housing Executive met with Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd to discuss social housing need across the Upper Bann.

“Waiting list information for North Lurgan at 31st March 2018 shows that there were 465 applicants who required a home, 214 of whom were deemed to be in housing stress. There had been 75 allocations in the preceding 12 month period.

“We have identified a requirement for 327 new homes across the Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon council area over the period 2018-2023, 80 of which should be located within North Lurgan.

“With regard to Derrymacash and Derrytrasna, waiting list information identifies 18 applicants, 10 of whom were in housing stress. There had not been any allocations in the preceding 12 month period. We have identified a requirement for an additional 17 homes. In addition to this we carried out a latent demand test to further examine the social housing and affordable housing requirements for the area and identify potential solutions to address unmet housing need. The results of this will be published in the New Year.

“At 31st March 2018, there were 82 homes under construction across the council area with a further 107 homes planned during the period 2018-2021.

“We acknowledge the need for additional social housing in Northern Ireland. All social housing new build is delivered by colleagues in Housing Associations through the Social Housing Development Programme (SHDP).

“The Housing Executive continues to work with their colleagues in the Housing Association to identify sites to meet housing need.”