25/04/2002

Housing waiting lists longest in West Belfast

People waiting for housing accommodation in west Belfast have to wait far longer than in any other part of the city according to a new report.

A new report published by the NI Housing Executive on April 24, is the first of its kind for west Belfast and sets out the facts on housing and related issues in the west of the City.

There are still “too many people who have to wait far longer for housing than they, or indeed the Housing Executive would want,” according to the report. Currently there are nearly 2,000 people on housing waiting lists, of which around 1,300 applicants are in ‘housing stress’.

People in this category have already been waiting 30 months.

According to the Housing Executive the study is not intended to present solutions to the housing issues facing West Belfast; but it is expected to act as a framework document that will be developed in conjunction with the community over a four-month consultation period.

Jennifer Hawthorne of the NIHE said: “It is clear that we need a comprehensive strategy to tackle the waiting lists. The Study will be debated with local groups over the next coming months and then we will be eagerly awaiting the publication of the 2001 Consensus figures in December to complete our draft proposals.”

She added that west Belfast was a victim of its own success because it was such a vibrant, successful and settled community. “People want to stay in their local community and with their families and that’s why there is such a low relet figure. People don’t move out so there aren’t any vacancies. These are difficulties which have contributed to these massive waiting figures.”

Maurice Johnston, the Housing Executive’s Belfast Area Manager said: “The Housing Executive has built 9,000 new homes to rent in West Belfast. In fact, as a result of this, real progress has been made in reducing unfitness in this part of the City.

“This Study provides a unique opportunity to develop a framework for tackling the housing issues in West Belfast. All of us with an interest in West Belfast must work hard to develop a housing strategy that will get to grips with the long waiting lists and provide the West Belfast community with the decent homes that they have the fundamental right to expect."

The West Belfast Sectoral Study provides an analysis of the West Belfast housing market and provides local housing area profiles for 10 sub housing markets: Lower Falls, Roden Street, Lower Springfield, Mid Falls (Belfast District 1), Mid Falls (Belfast District 3), Upper Springfield, Monagh, Andersonstown, Suffolk and Poleglass. (AMcE)

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