1,037 in ‘housing stress’ in Mid Ulster but just 212 new homes planned

A homeless man, who was living on the streets of Dungannon
A homeless man, who was living on the streets of Dungannon

The Housing Executive (HE) intends to spend £10.63m on its local homes over the next four years, but plans to build just 212 new houses between 2016-2019.

This news comes just a week after a Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy contacted the Mail to voice his concern at the lack of social housing, growing waiting lists, rising private rents and a homeless man who was living on the streets of Dungannon.

“There’s a real housing shortage in the district,” he said. “Little or no new housing is being provided. It’s a sad situation (and) a sad reflection of the area.”

Calling on the HE to start funding more new homes in the area, he suggested the site of the old Army Barracks on the Killymeal Road, Dungannon as one potential site.

During its meeting with Mid Ulster Council, it is understood HE staff outlined plans to make a significant investment in 2016/17 to support the delivery of new homes, but it is unclear how much money has been set aside or how many new homes will be built as a result.

The authority also revealed it intends to spend £10.63m upgrading and maintaining properties, supporting people to live independently, increasing energy efficiency in homes and providing grant aid in the private sector.

Through its landlord and regional services last year it invested £17.88m in Mid Ulster, which includes grant aid to Housing Associations for the building of new houses.

Paul Isherwood, the Housing Executive’s Director of Asset Management, said he agrees “lots of work needs to be done to meet housing need, improve stock and provide support for the most vulnerable”.

But just 212 new homes are planned across the district, while 1,037 people were listed as ‘in housing stress’ in March.

Single people continue to dominate the list of those still on waiting lists for social homes in Mid Ulster, with small families second worst off.

The waiting list in this area alone had 1,037 people/families who were described as ‘in housing stress’ at March 31, this year.

480 people were awarded homeless full duty status during 2015/16 and just 315 homes were allocated to waiting list applicants over the same period.