NEW figures show there are nearly 2,000 people on the Housing Executive’s waiting list in North Down with just 242 people allocated a home last year.
These ‘startling’ statistics came to light following a question from North Down MLA, Alex Easton, who is calling for more social housing to be built across the constituency area to meet growing demand.
According to the Housing Executive, which has not built new homes in over 20 years, the pressures on the ‘affordable housing market, the rise in demand for social housing and increased numbers of individuals and families who are homeless has been unprecedented in recent times’.
The housing body stated these pressures are compounded by the current cost of living crisis and with supply ‘not keeping pace with demand this impacts profoundly on the life chances of many households across Northern Ireland’.
The Housing Executive confirmed that a total of 1,858 people were on the housing waiting list on December 31, last year. Of these, 1,318 people were classed as living in housing stress or in an acute need of a home.
A further breakdown of the figures showed there were 1,291 people in the Bangor urban area on the housing waiting list, with 292 in Holywood and further 275 in the remainder of the constituency.
In the Bangor urban area, 923 people were classed as living in housing stress, with a further 194 people in Holywood and 201 people across the constituency in acute need of a home.
The Housing Executive confirmed there were just 242 housing allocations made by it during the year to December 31, with 168 in the Bangor urban area, 32 in Holywood and 42 across the rest of the constituency.
A breakdown of Housing Executive housing stock shows there are 3,048 NI Housing Executive properties across North Down with 1,923 of these properties in the Bangor urban area.
Describing the figures as ‘startling’ and ‘worrying’, Mr Easton has called for more social housing to be built to help house those in need across North Down.
He said: “I am deeply concerned to see that figures released to me by the Housing Executive show an incredible 1,858 people are on the Housing Executive waiting list with 1,318 in acute housing stress.
“This is a startling and worrying figure that we have for the North Down area and the Housing Executive are failing to tackle the issue.
“It is quite clear that we do not have enough social housing in place to deal with the amount of people in need and the only sure way to tackle this issue is to build more social housing through Housing Associations or for the Housing Executive to also start building again.
“There needs to be concerted plans put in place to build new social housing across North Down and to also look at bringing derelict housing back into stock as it is quite clear there are just not enough homes being built.”
A Housing Executive spokesman said the pressures on the affordable housing market, the rise in demand for social housing and increased numbers of individuals and families who are homeless has been unprecedented in recent times.
“This is being exacerbated by the current economic climate and the cost of living crisis. New social homes, built by housing associations have helped alleviate need across Northern Ireland,” he said.
“However, despite sustained and continued investment in social and affordable housing, supply is not keeping pace with demand and this impacts profoundly on the life chances of many households across Northern Ireland.”
He added: “We welcomed the publication of the Draft Housing Supply Strategy by the Minister for Communities when it was published last year. We believe it is an ambitious plan and provides hope for many households across Northern Ireland seeking permanent housing, whether in the social or private sectors.
“We’re also hopeful that we’ll see progress on plans to revitalise the Housing Executive, which would enable us to build new homes for the first time in over 20 years.