Our Homes, Our Future: Protecting Public Housing


Housing in Crisis – Stormont and Westminster

Since the formation of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) in 1971, housing has never been in as large a crisis as it is now. House building is at its lowest level for over forty years. Nearly 20,000 individuals and families apply for housing each year because they are homeless. The number of houses lacking at least one basic amenity has been rising and is at its highest level since 1987. There are over 37,000 waiting for social housing, of which a record number are in housing stress. Last year saw homeless people dying on the streets of Belfast.

The policy responses, in both Westminster and Stormont, to this housing crisis have been wholly inadequate. The Assembly appears to be willing to follow the broad thrust of English housing policy, with its emphasis on providing housing through the private market, to the exclusion of social housing. This has led to a “broken housing market” and a housing crisis every bit as acute as in NI.

In both jurisdictions, the root problem lies in a housing system and housing policy that prioritises making money over all else, including the basic human need for shelter. In this view houses are seen as stores of wealth, to be used as a pension or to make money from, by renting or “flipping”, when the prices rise. In other words, housing is seen as a commodity to be bought, sold and profited from.


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Watch the author of Our Homes, Our Future: Protecting Public Housing, Stewart Smyth, deliver his presentation launch lecture from the MAC Belfast.

On the Map

On the Map