GEMMA BROLLY: Housing Crisis in the North of Ireland will worsen if Stormont Remains Dysfunctional
Aontú Rep for East Derry, Gemma Brolly, has raised serious concerns over the pressure building in relation to homelessness, social housing and house prices within the North, and the complacency of Stormont in dealing with the worsening situation.
Rep Brolly: “The Housing Situation in the North of Ireland could turn into a crisis, like we are seeing in the South, if Stormont continues to falter. From the last Quarter of 2020, to the first Quarter of 2021, there was a 600 increase in the number of households presenting as homeless. In Q4 of 2020, there were 3,702 households presenting as homeless – by Q1 of 2021, that number was 4,306. That is a higher figure than at any point during 2020. As social housing and house prices issues also concurrently arise, this will only serve to exacerbate and entrench the homeless crisis within our society. What is particularly worrying within this, is that the most predominant reason for homelessness in 2020 was “sharing breakdown/family dispute” – something which will only be worsened by housing and economic pressures. Furthermore, the provision of temporary accommodation has not been increased to meet the 52% increase in households demanding to be placed in temporary accommodation (the increase for young person households demanding to be placed in temporary accommodation was 110% during this period). This burgeoning crisis is not being taken seriously by Stormont and will be the defining crisis in our society if it continues unaddressed!”
“Then of course the level of social housing available was drastically affected by the disruption of construction by Covid-19 lockdowns. In 2020, there was a total of 929 Social Housing Development Programme (SHDP) starts and 1,543 SHDP completions. In Q1 of 2021, there were 1,777 SHDP starts and 310 SHDP completions. That is a serious disparity between total SHDP activity for all four quarters in 2020, and one quarter in 2021, will have cost long-term for our housing situation in the North. This directly translates into longer waiting lists for social housing and in impacting the lives of those seeking social housing. A further point to make here is the steady and continued increase in house prices which mirrors the situation in the South. In Q1 of 2020, the average house price was £181,300 – a 3.8% increase on the average house price on Q1 in 2019. Now in Q1 in 2021, the average house price has increased – by 6% - to £199,600. That is an £18,000+ increase in a year. That increase is putting homes out of the reach of working families. Between rising house prices and social housing shortfalls, this directly impacts working families and communities just trying to get a roof over their head. All the while, the parties of Stormont are not addressing these damaging trends within the market. If they continue to falter in this way, the North will mirror the South in terms of the severity of our housing crisis.”