The latest NIHE figures for the end of March showed 45,105 households on the waiting list, with amongst them at least 26,567 children under 18. Set against the same data from March 2021 (43,971 households, including at least 24,717 children), this is a rise of 7.5% in the number of under-18s spending their childhood on the waiting list.
The 32,633 households in housing stress in March 2023 included at least 19,409 children and young people, compared to 16,713 children growing up in households recognised as being in housing stress in March 2021 – an even more worrying rise, of 16.1%.
Graver still: the 26,310 NI households officially recognised as homeless in March 2023 included at least 17,111 children under 18 – a rise of 23% on the same figure two years earlier (when there were at least 13,906 under-18s in FDA homeless households).
The Department for Communities set a target to begin building 2,000 new social homes in 2023/24, but announced last month that budget cuts meant reducing it to 1,400. Housing sector organisations highlighted the human impact this would have, and the NI Federation of Housing Associations wrote to the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to urge funding a target of 2,200.
But a quick look at the rise, year on year on year on year, in the number of people in acute housing need shows that long before these budget cuts, NI housing policy and programmes were already failing to come close to providing enough homes for the people who most urgently require them.
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