THE overall housing stock in Northern Ireland rose by just 6,750 last year, new figures show.
According to the NI Housing Statistics 2022-23 bulletin, there are currently 828,829 rateable properties in the region compared to 822,083 a year ago.
The tiny increase in units comes at a time when more than 45,000 are on housing waiting lists.
And it has prompted the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) to demand sufficient capital to be allocated in 2024-25 to bridge the gap and do more to supply much needed new social housing.
"These figures underscore a critical need for increased budget allocation to address the growing housing and homelessness crisis here," said CIH regional director Justin Cartwright.
The statistics reveal that 1,956 new social homes were started last year, slightly surpassing the target of 1,950.
But CIH says the looming concern is the insufficient capital budget for 2023-24, which will provide fewer than 1,500 homes.
"This is a significant roadblock, given the draft housing supply strategy's ambitious goal of building an average of over 2,200 homes annually", Mr Cartwright added.
The statistics highlight a pressing concern, with 45,105 households on the social housing waiting list as of March this year.
Among them, 32,633 were in housing stress, reflecting a four per cent increase from the previous year, while 10,349 households were accepted as homeless (a two per cent increase).
Mr Cartwright added: "This highlight a growing urgency to address people’s immediate requirements for secure and stable housing. It's not just about meeting targets – it's about meeting the real, pressing needs of our community.
“A top priority should be the swift restoration of the NI Executive. Locally-elected politicians should assume the responsibility for strategic decision-making to help meet the demand for housing.
“In the absence of this, we urge the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Department of Finance to prioritise housing and homelessness in the budget allocation process. This underscores the crucial need to overcome obstacles and guarantee access to stable, secure and affordable housing for all.”