9 March 2006 Edition

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Belfast housing figures "damning"

The Housing Executive must do more to house nationalists in North Belfast, said Sinn Féin's Caral Ní Chuilin.

Ní Chuilin was commenting after the latest figures published in the annual Housing Market Review showed that between 2002 and 2005, the number of people registered as being in urgent need of a house in North Belfast rose by 14%.

The number of homeless people rose to 10% in the same period.

"These figures are damning", said Ní Chuilin, "they raise equality and human rights issues because of how they impact on nationalists".

She called on the Housing Executive to buy more land for social housing and pointed out that the recently vacated Girdwood British army barracks was a windfall site that could be used for social housing, "if the will and commitment is there".

Meanwhile Housing spokesperson Fra McCann has called for, "a realistic approach to affordable housing", after it emerged that record breaking increases in house prices were forcing first time buyers out of the market.

McCann also called for a, "serious examination of the impact of private developers on the 'buy to let' market and the effect on house prices".

McCann also pointed out that the rise in house prices is being mirrored in the, "big increase in mortgage repossessions, as people end up taking on mortgages that they end up being unable to pay".


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