NI Social Housing Demand Soars

Rocketing house prices in Belfast are leading to ever longer waiting lists for rented social housing in Belfast, the Housing Executive has said. The number of home sales to first time buyers had plunged from nearly two thirds to just one third in six years.

Almost £46 million is to be spent this year in tackling homelessness and regenerating housing in the city said chief executive Paddy McIntyre. He said areas set to benefit from the investment package include Annadale, Highfield, Lenadoon, New Lodge and Knocknagoney.

Presenting the Belfast Housing Plan to councillors he singled out rising demand from the waiting lists, housing affordability and regeneration as key priorities. “The issues we face are often complex, and different communities have different problems that call for different solutions. Tackling homelessness and working with others to regenerate communities are central to the work we do in Belfast,” said Mr McIntyre.

And he stressed: “Affordability is now a significant problem in Belfast, resulting in the proportion of sales to first time buyers falling from 60% in 2001 to 33% in 2006. There is no doubt these massive price rises in the owner-occupied market are resulting in rising waiting lists throughout the whole of the city.”

Meanwhile Mr McIntyre said most unfit housing new was in the private sector and to help address this, homeowners in Belfast can expect to receive some 310 million in improvement grants this year. The housing body is also spending £1.6 million adapting houses for the elderly and people with disabilities to enable residents to remain in their home within the community, he said.