Cookstown landlords take home £6.2m in housing benefit amid district’s social housing shortage

Cookstown District Housing Executive
Cookstown District Housing Executive

Cookstown council paid over £6.2m in housing benefit to private landlords and housing associations between 2012-13 (the last complete year) amid a shortage of social housing, according to statistics.

The figures, obtained through a freedom of information request, highlight the need for more social dwellings with 369 applicants on a waiting list for homes in the district as of December 2013, “164 of those in housing stress”.

This is despite the 1,035 Housing Executive homes already provided at an affordable average rent of £62.52 per week this year, in the area.

There is some good news for those in need, however, as plans have been put in place to build a further 78 social houses in schemes covering Cookstown town, Coagh/Lisnahull and Stewartstown.

But this also means that 291 families on the current list have no hope of being housed in the near future, and not even half of those in “housing stress” are guaranteed a home.

The council however, said the Social Housing Need Assessment they carried out found that just 94 new homes are needed between 2013-18, with an “unmet housing need requirement of 16 units for Cookstown District”.

The assessment was based on “information gathered from a number of sources”.

Applicants on the housing list include singles, small and large families, older people and those in need of small or large adult accommodation.

Single people in need make up almost half the list with 162 waiting to be granted affordable housing, 79 of those in “housing stress”.

Those in need of a small family home make up the second largest group - 87 are listed, with 37 in urgent need.

And older people are third most in need of placement as 55 wait - 26 of those defined as in “housing stress”.

In a statement released by the Housing Executive as they prepare to meet with all 26 councils for the last time, they said: “There is a lot of work that needs to be done to meet housing need, improve housing stock and provide support for the most vulnerable in our community.

“It is essential that this work is delivered efficiently, effectively and prudently.”

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