Ulster Unionist Housing Spokesperson, Andy Allen MLA, has accused Sinn Fein of exacerbating the problems engulfing the local social housing sector. The East Belfast MLA was commenting after a shock 40% increase in the number of households presenting as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive compared to the same period last year, was revealed.
Andy Allen said:
“It is simply shocking that the latest DfC Housing Bulletin confirms that in the three-month period from January to March this year 5,240 households came to the NIHE presenting themselves as homeless; an increase of almost 1,500 compared to the same period last year.
“The key to ending homelessness is the adequate provision of good quality, affordable housing across a range of tenures. Yet, even though the number of people on the housing waiting list continues to grow, the number of new social houses we are building is actually falling compared to only a few years ago.
“Rising demand against shrinking supply is obviously totally unsustainable and I believe we are now seeing the consequences of that.
“Whilst most people acknowledge that Northern Ireland is not building enough social homes, nothing is actually being done to rectify it. It was outrageous earlier this year when, as a direct result of the political impasse at Stormont, the target of new homes for 2017/18 was reduced from 2,000 starts to 1,750. The ongoing stalemate means that even this lower target may not be met.
“Sinn Fein repeatedly talk about the need for respect and equality, yet they show no respect for the thousands of people stuck on hospital and housing waiting lists. If they were really committed to making the institutions work, they wouldn't be taking an extended summer break - they would instead be up at Stormont working day and night to restore the institutions.”