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‘Major social housing’ plans needed in Upper Bann as NIHE accused of ‘persistent inequality’

Meeting held as Housing Executive accused of 'not doing enough' for Upper Bann

Calls have been made for a major social housing scheme to be delivered to address provision shortfalls in Upper Bann.

Housing Executive officials in Belfast were pressed to act now to help stem the ever-growing waiting lists, as demand continues to grow against supply.

And NIHE has been accused of a policy of “persistent housing inequality” when it comes to making provisions in Upper Bann in comparison to other areas.

The complaint was levelled by Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd who met the NIHE Chief Executive as part of a party delegation.

Speaking afterwards, he said he had raised concerns about the “limited amount of new social housing” being built in Upper Bann.

Said Mr O’Dowd: “Figures supplied by the Housing Executive show there are 2160 applicants on the waiting list in Upper Bann.

“The response is to build 59 new homes this year with a further 57 in the next two years.

“Compare these figures to North Down which has 1900 applicants on the waiting list.

“Their response is to build 362 new homes this year with plans to build an additional 98 in the future.

“The comparison could not be more stark; North Down’s housing crisis is being taken seriously whilst Upper Bann is left behind with a totally inadequate response.

“Upper Bann has six wards in the top 100 most deprived wards, North Down has none. The biggest housing demand is in North Lurgan which has three of the most deprived wards.”

Mr O Dowd said he was timed to tackle the problem head on and deliver for the people of Upper Bann.

“Persistent housing inequality needs addressed as a matter of priority but it is very clear that the Housing Executive in Upper Bann aren’t doing enough,” he added.

“Instead the Housing Executive are using the private rented sector as a substitute for social housing. But private rentals provide no security for tenants. They can also be subject to often erratic rent increases which place a huge burden on tenants.

“Sinn Féin will be pressing the Housing Executive on what they intend to do to address these inequalities and will firmly make the case that a major social house building programme is required in Upper Bann to address the need that is clearly there.”

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