Housing demand outstrips supply in Derry and Strabane

There has been an increase in 'housing stress'
Image caption There has been an increase in 'housing stress'

The Housing Executive has warned that the demand for social housing in the north-west far outstrips supply.

Nearly 2,000 new houses are needed over the next five years for homeless people in the Derry City and Strabane District Council areas.

The Executive aims to build 1,255 by 2019, but this will not meet the housing needs for Londonderry alone.

1,200 households are accepted as being homeless in the council area but 700 have been turned down.

The figures were revealed at a Derry City and Strabane District Council meeting held on Tuesday.

'Nightmare'

One homeless single mother told BBC Radio Foyle that she was private renting until it became too expensive.

The woman, who did not want to be named, is now living with her sister-in-law's family.

"Its hard because times you feel you're in someone else's house, you don't feel comfortable," she said.

"You feel you are just in their way and that you are a burden. It's a nightmare, I'm constantly sick with worry and I can't sleep at night.

"The anxiety it causes is just ridiculous, I am depressed and its all to do with my living arrangement," she added.

When you apply for housing in Northern Ireland, a housing officer will award points based on your personal, housing and social circumstances.

The more points you have, the better your chance of getting an offer.


North-west Housing Issues

  • An ageing population
  • A growing waiting list: 4,247 total applicants, over half of which are in housing stress
  • 1,920 households presented as homeless
  • 719 social housing allocations in 2015/16, decreasing trend and widening gap between waiting list and allocations
  • 1,976 new social housing units needed over next five years
  • Lack of private rented opportunities & mixed tenure developments
  • Welfare reform

Independent councillor Darren O'Reilly said there is a serious housing crisis in Londonderry.

"That's a normal case," said Mr O'Reilly. "Four or five times a day I would be in the Housing Executive and you are dealing with a lot of stress.

"A lot of that stress is brought on by the living arrangements. People who were normally well and healthy before they went into this process.

"I think we need to look at this in a wider approach and see how much negative mental health is being caused by housing stress," he said.

The situation is the same, if not worse, in Strabane, according to Independent councillor Patsy Kelly.

"I did ask why the figures were not broken down for Derry and Strabane but they couldn't do that.

"Seeing the amount of new homes being built on the Skeoge road or Creggan in Derry, there is nothing like that here.

"We haven't had social housing built in Strabane in years and there is huge demand," said Mr Kelly.

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