SDLP Communities Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has called on Sinn Féin Minister Deirdre Hargey to take urgent action to address housing waiting lists.
Mr Durkan was speaking as the SDLP brought a motion before the Assembly on Tuesday calling for Minister Hargey to increase the supply of social and affordable housing.
The motion also called on the Joint First Ministers to include a plan for housing in their programme for government.
The Foyle MLA said:
“The North is currently in the grip of a housing crisis that is getting worse every day. Our social housing waiting lists are getting longer, with a paltry amount of new homes being built, coming nowhere close to meeting demand. People are left on waiting lists for years and many are losing hope that they will ever get a home they can call their own.
“The housing crisis is not limited to social homes, young people are struggling to get on the housing ladder due to the high deposits required to buy a home. Many of these young people are trapped in a cycle of paying huge rents, which prevents them saving the money necessary. Rents across the North have sharply increased over the last few years which is only making the situation worse.
“In the South Minister Hargey’s Sinn Féin colleagues are calling for a rent freeze to help people there, but in the North, where she has the power to implement such a move, she has brought forward no such proposal. Her party have also promised wide-scale building plans for social and affordable housing if they enter government, but people here are languishing on ever-growing housing lists.
“We are mired in a cost of living crisis, people are struggling to pay their rent, nevermind think about potentially buying a home of their own. We are rapidly heading towards a situation where we will have a generation of people for whom home ownership is a rare privilege.
“The real impact our housing crisis has on people here can often get lost in statistics. Not having housing security can take a huge toll on people and their mental health. As a result of our lack of housing supply we have families living in overcrowded conditions, people relying on the sofas of family and friends for somewhere to sleep and people being forced to move away from the community they grew up, losing out on important familial support."