Almost 500 waiting on social housing in Magherafelt

Social housing need
Social housing need

Private landlords operating in the Magherafelt area took home £5.7m in housing benefits in the last finanical year, according to Housing Executive statistics.

But the sum, which also includes money paid to Housing Associations in the area, could not be broken down further said their spokesman.

This news comes six months after the SDLP met with housing bodies to highlight the need for more social housing in the district.

And while councillor Jim Campbell said private providers are meeting a need, he added that more must be done to help the 477 people and families on Housing Executive waiting lists.

Their own figures show that 194 of the 477 waiting are in urgent need of a home, with single people making up the largest portion of the list - 199 waiting, “95 of which are considered to be in housing stress”.

Magherafelt councillor Jim Campbell told the Mail he would like to see the Executive using their powers to buy unused landbanks from developers, to build much needed social housing in the area.

The SDLP man said: “In the Magherafelt area plan, there was a lot of places identified for building... it’s land that belongs to developers.

“The Housing Association should be looking at those areas of land and compulsory purchasing, because they have that power.

“They should be purchasing ground in the town to ease the problem... there’s only a small bit of building being down in terms of social housing.”

Aware of the problem facing singles in particular, he added: “There is an urgent need for them.”

The Housing Executive also released information which indicated the “projected housing need for the period 2013-2018 for Magherafelt is 102 social housing units”.

Speaking about this statistic, Cllr Campbell added: “I don’t know how they reconcile the two figures in terms of the projected need.”

But he did say that the numbers of those in need probably fluctuated year-on-year.

Four new build schemes for 28 homes were finished in March this year, with another six, providing 55 new properties, underway.

Another 34 units are planned across four new-build projects between 2014-2017.

Rents for Housing Executive properties will average around £63 per week between 2014-2015.