New social housing figures reveal huge disparity between areas
SINN Féin has called for an equality expert to oversee social housing across Northern Ireland after latest figures revealed a chronic shortage of homes in some areas while too many are being built in others.
While some areas such as west Belfast saw a huge shortfall in the number of new homes being built, other areas such as Causeway Coast and the Glens saw the number of new houses being built far outstripped demand.
According to the figures, sourced from the Housing Executive by Sinn Féin, across Northern Ireland, between 2015/2016 and 2017/2018, a total of 4,484 new homes were needed to meet demand. In this time, 4,290 homes were built.
Areas facing the biggest shortfall were south and east Belfast where 484 homes were needed but only 228 built.
In west Belfast, 965 homes were needed however only 489 homes were built, refleccting a 49 per cent shortfall.
In Newry, Mourne and Down, 410 new homes were needed but only 272 constructed and in Mid and East Antrim, 575 homes was the target but only 404 built.
On the opposite end of the scale, some areas got more homes than needed.
In the Causeway Cost and Glens area 94 homes were needed however 285 were built - a 200 per cent increase above the target need.
In Antrim and Newtownabbey, a total of 212 homes were needed to meet demand however 330 were built - a 55 per cent surplus.
In Lisburn and Castlereagh, 109 extra homes were built beyond demand.
North Belfast saw the social housing stock increase by 428 to meet demand for 365 homes. The figures have been revealed at a time when the spotlight has been on the serious housing shortages in the area for some time.
There was also surplus housing built in Derry and Strabane, Ards and North Down, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, Fermanagh and Omagh and Mid Ulster.
Sinn Féin yesterday released the figures ahead of a launch today of the party's `The Right to Housing: Improving the Level and Location of Social Housing' policy paper, which makes a number of recommendations including the appointment of a human rights and equality expert to the board of the Housing Executive; increasing the target for new social housing, and giving social housing providers the first option to buy private land that is for sale.
Carál Ní Chuilín, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson, said: "With over 36,000 households on the waiting list it is clear that there is a chronic shortage of social housing.
"The figures I have obtained from the Housing Executive also confirm that social housing isn't being built where need is greatest," said the North Belfast MLA.
"There are also inequalities within these areas. For example even though the overall target has been exceeded in north Belfast we know that new build has not been directed towards nationalist areas where need is greater.
"This represents the unfinished business of the Civil Rights movement which campaigned for housing equality. Such inequalities should not be allowed to persist in 2019 and must be challenged at every level".
New Homes to Tackle Housing Stress (2015/16 to 2017/18)
Area Target Actual +/-
North Belfast 365 428 +63
South & East Belfast 484 228 -256
West Belfast 965 489 -476
Lisburn & Castlereagh 191 300 +109
Antrim & Newtownabbey 212 330 +118
Causeway Coast & Glens 94 285 +191
Derry & Strabane 686 833 +147
Mid & East Antrim 575 404 -171
Ards & North Down 300 464 +163
Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon 53 77 +24
Fermanagh & Omagh 13 14 +1
Mid Ulster 136 167 +31
Newry, Mourne & Down 410 272 -138
Total 4,484 4,290 -194