‘Huge stress’ for families to find affordable home

‘Huge stress’ for families to find affordable home

6 October 2021

THE growing need to address the district’s social housing crisis is urgent, Slieve Croob councillor Cathy Mason has warned.

She says there are many across communities who are struggling to access affordable housing which is having a huge impact on their lives. 

She also says she has been contacted by many people who are unable to find an affordable home, with some revealing that they have had to relocate to other areas after having lived in their home village all their lives. 

She said that having to move has caused “huge stress” for some families and can simply not be allowed to continue.

“For far too long now, the current wastewater systems in Drumaness and Loughinisland have been operating at full capacity and are no longer fit for purpose. This is not acceptable as it prevents new homes from being built in the area,” Cllr Mason continued.

“There are many developers looking to invest in both areas to build more affordable homes that locals can rent or buy and raise their families and expand the community as a whole. However, due to the current wastewater system and the failings of NI Water to upgrade it, developers have not been able to build homes.”

She said there was “no doubt” that those living in rural areas experience greater difficulty in accessing affordable homes due to house and land prices, land availability and rates of development.

She continued: “Following the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a greater demand for social and affordable housing, it is vital that we see a fully transformative plan for all stakeholders — including the Housing Executive — to meet the needs of our rural communities.

“After the publication of the Housing Executive’s annual housing investment plan for 2021, it is evident that there is still a huge amount of work to do to deliver social and affordable homes across the district.”

Cllr Mason said she was confident that achieving an increase in the construction of new and affordable social housing will benefit from Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey’s proposed reforms of the Housing Executive which will allow the organisation to borrow from the market to begin the construction of new social houses for the first time in years.

“Throughout the year, site identification studies were carried out by the Executive for Ardglass, Killough, Crossgar, Saintfield and a number of other areas throughout the district. It is time these areas saw the delivery of much needed housing,” the councillor insisted.

“As a Sinn Féin representative, the delivery of new, affordable,and social homes for those in need is one of my priorities.

“Housing is one of the most fundamental human needs. It provides basic shelter, comfort and security. A home also affords personal dignity, a space for privacy and a foundation for family life.”