‘Shameful’ – Properties in North Antrim lying empty while families wait for new home
A total of 1,096 properties are lying empty across North Antrim while families wait for a home.
The figures have been branded as “shameful” by Ballymena SDLP councillor Eugene Reid.
In response to Assembly Questions, the Department of Finance revealed there are currently 20,068 houses registered as being empty in the North.
The actual figure could be much higher given there is no requirement for owners to register their properties as empty.
As of June this year 2,244 applicants were on social housing waiting lists across North Antrim with 1,339 in housing stress.
Just 148 new social homes were built across the constituency in 2020/21.
Councillor Reid said: “That 1,096 homes remain vacant throughout North Antrim is shocking, but taken in the context of the growing numbers on social housing waiting lists the figure is utterly shameful.
“While the pandemic has contributed significantly to the pressures placed on the system, the housing crisis has long predated Covid-19.
“There is no excuse for the failure to get to grips with this known issue and one which the SDLP has raised consistently over the past five years.
“It would appear that the Empty Homes Strategy launched in 2013 has done little to tackle the number of empty properties right across the North.
“The number has increased by almost 1,000 properties over the course of the pandemic and this figure could be significantly higher given the lack of incentive for owners to notify Land and Property Services that their properties are empty.
“For the thousands of individuals and families waiting in dire need for a place to call home, any property lying empty is unforgivable.
“Efforts need to be made to get as many of these properties back into use as possible.
“It must be considered an integral part in tackling the worsening housing crisis.
“To sit back and do nothing to reduce the number of empty homes would be a dereliction of duty,” said Councillor Reid.