a product message image
{' '} {' '}
Limited time offer
SAVE % on your upgrade

Page 1


Belfast City Council Child Homelessness motion: In December 2018, following meetings with homeless children from #BuildHomesNow, Belfast City Councillors unanimously passed a motion which: calls upon the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to work with the Council to use all available powers, including powers of vesting, zoning and planning, to ensure that housing provision meets current and projected needs in the city of Belfast. Councillors can deliver on this motion by using their planning powers to prioritise new-build social housing for households on the waiting list.

Housing demand: At end March 2019, the Housing Executive recorded 37,859 households on the social housing waiting list across the eleven council areas. Of those waiting households, 26,387 – basically seven out of ten -- were considered to be in housing stress (over 30 points), while over half -- 19,629 households -- were deemed Full Duty Applicant homeless. This last group – individuals and families recognised as homeless – included 15,143 children under the age of 18, a third again higher than last year’s figures.

Housing supply: Belfast’s Local Development Plan Draft Strategy (Policy HOU1) foresees 66,000 additional people living in Belfast by 2035, requiring at least 31,600 new homes. To meet the range of need, the strategy proposes that all new residential developments of more than five units include 20% social / affordable housing (Policy HOU5). Even if the entire 20% -- roughly 6,300 homes -- were to go to people on the waiting list, it would not be enough to house the 10,000+ Belfast households on the waiting list. Figures obtained from the Housing Executive reveal that over the last seven years, on average four times as much public money is spent on rentals from private landlords as is spent on building new social homes each year. Studies of this situation, for instance a 2017 one by NIPSA, have shown that it is cheaper and more efficient for public authorities to build new social housing than it is to support housing benefit recipients in the private rented sector.

Right to housing: International law signed by the UK government recognises that everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living -- including adequate housing -- for themselves and their family, and to continuous improvement of their living conditions, without discrimination of any kind. These are concrete legal obligations on the government of the United Kingdom -- and through it the Northern Ireland Executive, the Department for Communities and the Housing Executive. The right to adequate housing has different elements: housing has to be available, affordable, habitable, accessible, culturally adequate and appropriately located, and residents must have security of tenure.

1st July 2019


Briefing for newly elected Belfast City Councillors, 1 July 2019

Social housing, land and power: the future of the Hillview site, North Belfast

Area and location:

10.5 acres, Crumlin Road, North Belfast

Owner:

Killultagh Estates Ltd

Area Housing Demand:

Residual need for 1,081 social homes in North Belfast (1,041 of them in predominately Catholic N Belfast 1 HNA) (NIHE figures)

Housing Supply:

See chart with social housing new build completions data below

Housing Potential:

130 homes

THE HILLVIEW SITE

A retail park opened on the Hillview site in 2001, but became vacant in 2007 with the failure of the Dunnes Store located there. Over the years, the site has received significant levels of public sector financial support. After the 2008 financial crisis, Hillview Retail Park was acquired by the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), before eventually being purchased again by its owner. The site has Departmental loans -- later written off -and from charitable rates relief. An unlawful car boot sale on the site ran for over a decade before closing in 2018.

Equality Can’t Wait - BUILD HOMES NOW is a campaign led by families experiencing homelessness. We have secured cross party political support and interventions from international and domestic human rights bodies calling on government and public authorities to take action to tackle long standing inequality in housing provision. We have mapped the available land and are monitoring the actions of the state duty bearers responsible for the development of social housing, particularly at the few remaining sites -- including Glenmonagh, Hillview, Mackies, The Gasworks, Sirocco and Belfast Harbour -- large enough to make a difference for the thousands of families waiting for homes.

Following a deeply flawed processi the interests of developers were prioritised over the entrenched inequalities experienced by homeless families. In August 2017 plans before the


Council for commercial redevelopment of the site were approved over community objections that it excluded housing on the site and would undermine local businesses. Four political parties on Council - Sinn Féin, SDLP, Green Party and People Before Profit – have endorsed the call for an Independent Inquiry into the Hillview planning application process. THE NEED FOR SOCIAL HOUSING AT HILLVIEW Despite a range of Housing Executive initiatives in North Belfast over the past two decades – including a period of ring-fencing new-build allocations and a £133m seven-year local housing strategyii -- today housing need in North Belfast remains not only acute but also heavily concentrated in predominately Catholic areas. Recent Housing Executive figures on housing need indicate that North Belfast has:  2,576 households on waiting list for social housing -- 1,922 of them in housing stress  1,565 households officially recognised as homeless (Full Duty Applicant)  as of 2018/19, a shortfall (‘residual need’) of 1,081 social homes to meet demand. The vast bulk of this shortfall (1,041) is to meet need for homes for families in predominately Catholic N Belfast 1 Housing Need Assessment area; the adjacent, predominately Protestant N Belfast 2 HNA had a need for only an additional 40 social homes.

The Housing Executive own and manage nearly 6,000 properties in North Belfast. The inequality in meeting demand is not due to a problem with allocating those properties -- the divided character of social housing here means that families in N Belfast 1 and 2 are not


Northern Ireland Act 1998 section 28E requires the authorities to “tackle poverty, social exclusion and patterns of deprivation based on objective need”, while section 75 lays out equality duties. Policies implemented by the Housing Executive which, in theory, direct resources and efforts towards meeting their statutory obligations – such as the policy of ring-fencing – have utterly failed to address long standing inequalities.

competing with each other for the same houses. The inequality is concerned rather with the supply itself. According to the Housing Executive’s statistics, N Belfast 2 (predominately Protestant) residents have a sufficient supply of social homes in their community to meet housing need, while residents of N Belfast 1(predominately Catholic) face a chronic and severe shortage.

The official response from duty bearers and public officials charged with implementing the statutory duty to promote equality is to habitually cite residents’ ‘area of choice’ as the main obstacle to their being housed. Such a response not only ignores the critical role of support networks in working class communities in providing unaffordable services (childcare, caring duties, etc), but serves to deflect attention from the state’s failure to build social housing on sites like Hillview and Mackies, while blaming people themselves for the poverty they are forced to endure. In the months and years spent waiting for a suitable home, families can endure stressful circumstances and unhealthy living conditions that have long-term impacts on children. Some are forced into overcrowded conditions, precarious relationships or homelessness. Land that could help break this cycle of harm was identified years ago by affected families: the Hillview site. It is the only local site large enough to offer a solution to many of North Belfast’s homeless and poorly housed people. CROSS-PARTY SUPPORT FOR #BUILDHOMESNOW!

From 2015/16, representatives from five political parties – Alliance Party, Green Party, People Before Profit, SDLP and Sinn Féin – have met with members of the Equality Can’t Wait / Build Homes Now campaign and supported their efforts in a range of ways, including by joining demonstrations, being part of our poster campaign, signing petitions and publicly calling for social homes to be built at big sites across the city, including Hillview. ACCOUNTABILITY: RESPONSIBLE OFFICIALS ’ POSITION ON SOCIAL HOUSING AT HILLVIEW

To date, Housing Executive officials have cited the need for ‘community consensus’ and the Hillview’s current zoning status for retail use as obstacles to its being developed for social housing. These factors are presented as insurmountable obstacles. In fact, the primary obstacle to social housing at Hillview is political will.


In the first instance, ‘community consensus’ in this case has effectively operated as veto for political unionism to oppose social housing on Hillview – a position which has entrenched religious inequality in social housing policy across north Belfast and deepened homelessness across the city for decadesiii. The statutory obligation to promote equality exists so as to ensure the rights of minorities are protected from discriminatory influences; families experiencing entrenched homelessness should be placed front and centre in the development of social housing policy - not considered only after the demands of those not in housing need are met. This is not only the right thing to do, it is the lawiv. Secondly, the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan designating the site for retail only purposes has now been superseded. Policy HOU2 of the draft Local Development Plan Strategy for Belfast makes clear that previous zonings do not necessarily exclude the possibility of residential or mixed development on a given site in future. For its part, in August 2018 correspondence with PPR, the Department for Communities said it: “continues to support the acquisition of the site [Hillview] by a housing association for social housing but would be reluctant to consider vesting the site at this time.”v In December 2018, following meetings with homeless children from #BuildHomesNow, Belfast City Councillors unanimously passed a motion which “calls upon the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to work with the Council to use all available powers, including powers of vesting, zoning and planning, to ensure that housing provision meets current and projected needs in the city of Belfast.”


Councillors have stated that this motion could potentially take the form of fast tracking planning applications for social homes or land that could be zoned for housingvi.

The Hillview site is one of the very few large sites in North Belfast where massive social housing need can begin to be met. It cannot be wasted. WHO RUNS CITY HALL? WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A NEWLY ELECTED BELFAST CITY COUNCILLOR 1. Demand accountability from council officials. Councillors can support the call for a review of the 2017 Hillview planning decision by introducing a motion in Council and deliver on the child homelessness motion by supporting plans to fastrack an application for social housing on the Hillview site 2. Council engages directly with the owner to ascertain willingness to sell the site and

make representations to the Department for Communities to purchase or develop plans to vest, if necessary, in order to fulfil Section 75 NI Act (1998) obligations to use powers to address inequality 3. Councillors share this brief widely with colleagues and on social media. Councillors can demonstrate support for homeless children and homes at Hillview by sharing this recent short film made by children experiencing homelessness in Belfast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj2wMoy4LQo

ii

PPR ‘Hillview: The case for an independent inquiry’, (November 2017)


See inter alia North Belfast Housing Strategy 2000, “Tackling Social Need”.

ii

New Statesman, Praying for new housing, Beatrix Campbell July 2007 at https://www.newstatesman.com/society/2007/07/housing-executive-ireland iii

PPR, Equality Can’t Wait, August 2013 at https://issuu.com/ppr-org/docs/equality_can_t_wait The Detail, “Documents reveal DUP lobbying over North Belfast housing and ‘allegations of gerrymandering’”, 13 May 2014 at https://www.thedetail.tv/articles/documents-reveal-dup-lobbyingover-north-belfast-housing-and-allegations-of-gerrymandering; The Guardian, ‘People are being sidelined in Belfast’s housing crisis’, Dawn Foster, August 2017 at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/22/people-being-sideland-in-belfasts-housing-crisis “[W]e regard equality of opportunity and good relations as complementary. There should be no conflict between the two objectives. Good relations cannot be based on inequality between different religions or ethnic groups. Social cohesion requires equality to be reinforced by good community relations. ... I repeat that we see no conflict between these two objectives” Dr Marjorie Mowlam (27 July 1998) House of Commons, Official report col. 109 iv

v

1 Aug 2018 correspondence to PPR from DFC Housing Policy and Performance

Belfast Live, “Belfast social housing plans could be fast tracked to alleviate homeless crisis”, 3 Nov 2018 at https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/belfast-social-housing-plans-could-15366179. vi


Briefing for newly elected Belfast City Councillors, 1 July 2019

Social housing, land and power: the future of the former Mackies site, West Belfast Area and location:

25 acres, Springfield Road, West Belfast

Owner:

Department for Communities

Area Housing Demand:

2,835 households on the waiting list; at least 1,145 homeless children

Housing Supply:

See chart with new build completions data below

Housing Potential:

250 homes

MACKIES LAND - PUBLIC RESOURCE The James Mackie & Sons factory closed in 1999. A small part of the site was acquired by Invest NI, part of the Department for the Economy. Using government and European Union funds an ‘Innovation Factory’ was built at Mackies in 2017 to provide ‘support to Belfast’s growing entrepreneurial community’. The lion’s share of the site is vacant and owned by the Department for Communities, the government body responsible for “the provision of decent, affordable, sustainable homes and housing support services” and “addressing inequality and disadvantage”, as obligated and empowered under Section 75 of the NI Act (1998) and the St Andrew’s Agreement (2008).

Equality Can’t Wait - BUILD HOMES NOW is a campaign led by families experiencing homelessness. We have secured cross party political support and interventions from international and domestic human rights bodies calling on government and public authorities to take action to tackle long standing inequality in housing provision. We have mapped the available land and are monitoring the actions of the state duty bearers responsible for the development of social housing, particularly at the few remaining sites -- including Glenmona, Hillview, Mackies, The Gasworks, Sirocco and Belfast Harbour -- large enough to make a difference for the thousands of families waiting for homes.

Using the Mackies land to build much-needed social housing for homeless families is a unique opportunity given the location of the site in an area experiencing the worst housing need in the state, the diminishing availability of usable land for social housing across the city and the fact that the land is in public hands.


THE NEED FOR SOCIAL HOUSING AT MACKIES

The Housing Executive produces the official figures on housing need and divides West Belfast into 8 ‘Housing Need Assessment (HNA)’ areas. The figures show that three areas surrounding the site - Inner, Mid and Outer West Belfast – have a shortfall of 2,137 social homes, and one of the highest levels of housing need in the state broken down as follows:   

2,835 households on the waiting list for social housing -- 2,368 of them in housing stress 1,919 households officially recognised as homeless (Full Duty Applicant) At least 1,145 homeless children

While they wait for a suitable home, families endure stressful circumstances and unhealthy living conditions that have long-term impacts on children. Land that could help break this cycle of harm is already owned and controlled by the public body with the duty to provide social housing. A lasting solution for a sizeable proportion of West Belfast’s homeless and poorly housed population is already within the Department for Communities’ grasp. CROSS -PARTY SUPPORT FOR #B UILDHOMESNOW !

#BuildHomesNow! has secured support for housing at Mackies from five political parties (Sinn Féin, SDLP, People Before Profit, Green Party and Alliance) representing thousands of constituents in housing need in West Belfast. Elected representatives representing these parties joined homeless families at the site for a Christmas Vigil in 2015 and have taken other steps to support the development of social housing at Mackies. This support by Councillors and MLAs

with democratic mandates, however, has not translated into appropriate actions by public officials with responsibility for implementing law and policy. ACCOUNTABILITY : BELFAST CITY COUNCIL ’S PLANS TO EXCLUDE HOMES FROM MACKIE ’S

In April 2019, despite the well evidenced need for social housing and Council’s statutory duty to tackle inequality, Belfast City Council’s People and Communities Committee considered the council’s draft ‘Open Spaces Strategy’, which refers to a proposed ‘Peace IV Shared Spaces Greenway’ to encompass the Mackies site. The ‘shared spaces’ plan of the EU-funded Peace IV Programme lists Belfast City Council as delivery partner, and maps published with other project materials show a “proposed new path network in open space / parkland” running through the Mackies site. The plans exclude any potential social housing development at the site.


In a manner completely contrary to Belfast City Council’s existing legal obligations concerning the promotion of equality under Section 75 NI Act (1998), plans for the site were described as follows by Council in its January 2018 Peace IV launch booklet: “an exciting shared space project focusing on 12 interlinked sites comprising of a core project located at the Springfield Road interface incorporating Springfield Dam, Springfield Park, the Invest NI site and Paisley Park. From this, a 13 km network of cycling and walking pathways will expand to connect local neighbourhood open spaces across west Belfast. The project will focus on sites that are affected by segregation which are close to interfaces with the aim of creating new shared spaces, improving linkages, relationships and connectivity between the various areas.” No mention whatsoever is made of the extremely high concentration of housing need impacting the Catholic community surrounding the area, not the obligation of the Council to pay due regard to the need to promote equality when considering using its powers in relation to this site. Pitting ‘shared spaces’ against, and prioritising it above, the promotion of equality is a breach of the Good Friday Agreementi.

Fig. 1 Map of its land provided by DFC.

Fig. 2 PEACE IV proposal map showing DFC land.

It is not clear what role, if any, the Housing Executive have played in the development of these plans. Residents of the four homeless hostels in close proximity to the Mackies site and families on the social housing waiting list report being wholly unaware of the plans. Responses to Freedom of Information requests reveal that consultations have been held with some elected representatives and organisations. #BuildHomesNow campaigners met with Council officials in October 2018 and raised these issues with them. They were informed that the consultees had not raised housing as a particular issue. It is unacceptable that officials with decision making powers over the future of Mackies have assessed housing need based on anything other than the official figures on housing need provided by the Housing Executive. This response raises serious questions about the nature of the consultation itself. When considering how to use public land, Council has a legal obligation to consider how it can be best used to address housing need and inequality. For Belfast City Council to develop plans to which


will exclude housing entirely -- and thereby condemn thousands of homeless familiesto prolonged and unnecessary homelessness – undermines and contravenes both the political commitments made by councillors and the council’s statutory obligations. The Belfast Local Development Plan process is now underway. Led by council officials this plan will ultimately govern how Belfast grows and develops for decades. The current plan contains policies on urban design and green spaces, as well as on residential development and affordable housing. Worryingly there is limited reference to plans for social housing and the plans are replete with references to ‘shared spaces’ where it appears that officials have decided housing will be excluded. Responsible urban planning and management requires a holistic and inclusive approach which does not exclude homes for homeless families, but works instead to develop public spaces that encourage health and wellbeing, provide homes and jobs and do so in a manner which is sustainable and protects the natural environment. The Mackies site is one of the very few large sites in West Belfast where the failed policies of the past, which have deepened poverty and homelessness and encouraged harmful political and developer-led agendas, can begin to be reversed.

WHO RUNS CITY HALL ? WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A NEWLY ELECTED BELFAST CITY COUNCILLOR 1. Reject the current Mackies plan. The plan, as it exists, does not maximise the potential for creating sustainable communities with levels of social housing provision proportionate to the housing crisis we are experiencing. Council officials are currently developing the Open Spaces Strategy and the LDP Local Policies Plan. Councillors can prioritise social housing by publicly and privately opposing any plans that would exclude social housing from development processes, including the current plan for Mackies. We are asking Councillors to be the voice of homeless families in Council processes which exclude them: raise objections at Committee stages, speak up for social housing at Mackies on the floor of the Council and vote only for proposals which address the crisis. The Mackies plan, in its current form, is unacceptable. Send it back to the drawing board. Insist on a process which involves consulting directly with homeless families in developing plans for the Mackies. 2. Support the call for an investigation in the Mackies Plan focussing on how officials have utterly ignored Council’s equality obligations. In December 2018, following meetings with homeless children from #BuildHomesNow, Belfast City Councillors unanimously passed a motion which ‘calls upon the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to work with the Council to use all available powers, including powers of vesting, zoning and planning, to ensure that housing provision meets current and projected needs in the city of Belfast’. Councillors can deliver on this motion by calling for an investigation into the Mackies Plan to establish how decisions were made to exclude social housing from these plans. Councillors should direct officials to urgently prioritise adequate social housing for homeless families at Mackies and in the Local Development Plan.


3. Encourage and support plans for housing. Incredibly, while refusing to consider homes for the homeless on the Mackies site itself, the Council’s Planning Committee has already approved plansii for 247 private homes immediately adjacent to the Mackies site demonstrating clear support for private housing in the area. These homes will not help solve the social housing crisis. Councillors should now demonstrate support for social housing at Mackies by encouraging and supporting planning applications for the provision of social housing. Councillors should call for housing associations and others to come forward with proposals to build homes at Mackies as part of inclusive and sustainable development. 4. Ensure that the Department for Communities, Housing Executive and Council work together to Build Homes Now at Mackies. In October 2018 the Department for Communities wrote to PPR that the Peace IV project “is still at an early stage and the Department has not yet been presented with any detailed plans. The future use of the land will not be considered until proposals are received”. The current plans will compound homelessness and inequality. Councillors should pass motions instructing Council to make representations to the Department for Communities seeking guarantees that any plans for Mackies which undermine the Department’s duty to “provide decent, affordable, sustainable homes” and “address inequality and disadvantage” will not be permitted to continue. 5. Councillors can share this brief widely with colleagues and on social media. Councillors can demonstrate support for homeless children and homes at Mackies by sharing this recent short film made by children experiencing homelessness in Belfast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj2wMoy4LQo.

“[W]e regard equality of opportunity and good relations as complementary. There should be no conflict between the two objectives. Good relations cannot be based on inequality between different religions or ethnic groups. Social cohesion requires equality to be reinforced by good community relations. ... I repeat that we see no conflict between these two objectives” Dr Marjorie Mowlam (27 July 1998) House of Commons, Official report col. 109 i

ii

See planning application Z/2008/2057/F at http://epicpublic.planningni.gov.uk/publicaccess/


Briefing for newly elected Belfast City Councillors, 1 July 2019

Sanctuary under construction: the situation of VPRS refugees in Belfast THE VULNERABLE PERSONS RELOCATION SCHEME (VPRS)

“If somebody cannot find suitable accommodation, how are they going to contribute to this community?” - Female Syrian Refugee

Equality Can’t Wait - BUILD HOMES NOW is a campaign led by families experiencing homelessness. We have secured cross party political support and interventions from international and domestic human rights bodies calling on government and public authorities to take action to tackle long standing inequality in housing provision. We have mapped the available land and are monitoring the actions of the state duty bearers responsible for the development of social housing, particularly at the few remaining sites -- including Glenmonagh, Hillview, Mackies, The Gasworks, Sirocco and Belfast Harbour -- large enough to make a difference for the thousands of families waiting for homes.

In September 2015, as conflict continued to displace civilians on a massive scale, authorities announced that the UK government would welcome 20,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from camps in countries neighbouring war-torn Syria. Families vetted and selected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on the basis of need, and approved by the UK Home Office, were given ‘humanitarian protected status’, with the right to work, the right to family reunion and access to public funds, for five years.

THE VPRS LOCALLY The Northern Ireland Executive agreed to take part in the VPRS in October 2015. Under the scheme, individual and family cases are referred for consideration, where local authorities can either accept or reject them based on the information contained in their referral forms. The first group of refugees accepted by officials arrived in Northern Ireland in December of that year. Since then, nineteen groups have been sent here, totalling 1,409 people, including 342 familiesi. Since July 2017, VPRS arrivals are granted full refugee status, which includes the right to income support. The Department for Communities heads the Reception and Resettlement Group – made up of service providers and other involved agencies – charged with helping the refugees to settle, as well as the Integration Group charged with their longer-term wellbeing. During their first year, families are supported by a consortium of community and voluntary groupsii


acting in partnership with official bodies. The Home Office provides at least £11,120 per refugee to cover the cost of discharging these duties during the first year, as well as a smaller amount each subsequent year for the five years. The Housing Executive moves the households into temporary private rented accommodation within one week of their arrival, from which they are entitled to move into permanent social housing; in many cases however this has yet to happeniii. Belfast is the Local Government District with the highest number of resettled Syrian familiesiv; many of these are living in West Belfast.

JULY 2018, WE CAME HERE FOR SANCTUARY REPORT “We’ve already gone through terrible suffering and we came here to avoid suffering, to seek sanctuary. We don’t want to go through another process of suffering because of our living conditions.” - Female Syrian Refugee People resettled under the VPRS scheme were chosen because of their vulnerable situation in the refugee camps outside Syria. They include at-risk women and children, people with severe medical care needs and survivors of torture or other violence. In July 2018, PPR issued a report highlighting accounts of substandard housing conditions in which six Syrian families, placed by the Housing Executive in homes rented through the private property management company HomeCare, were living. The evidence provided by the families on their living conditions appeared to fall well short of both international standards and the Decent Homes Standard applied by the Housing Executive to all homes. In some cases poor conditions were believed to have exacerbated parents’ and children’s existing medical conditions. Despite the combined efforts and positive programmes provided by an array of local community organisations, the report also contained some family members’ accounts of perceived racially motivated abuse from some individuals in their community and of the impact of this – in terms of isolation, insecurity and stress – on them and on their children. Taken together, the families’ reports raised substantive questions about the extent to which authorities here were fully exercising their duty of care towards these vulnerable people. WHAT HAS CHANGED ?

In the ten months since the PPR report, the Housing Executive has moved five of the six affected families out of the substandard properties to better quality accommodation in West Belfast. This is obviously a welcome development in those cases. However, the families are concerned that in some cases other families may have been moved straight into


the substandard properties they vacated without substantive remedial works having been undertaken. Indeed, several more families have lodged complaints with the Housing Executive documenting the intolerable substandard conditions they live in. “I just want to feel like there is no fear in my house. Mentally, we are getting a lot worse than what we were before.” - Female Syrian Refugee Following the July 2018 report, individuals and groups within West Belfast concerned at the stories of abuse recounted by some families reacted quickly, expressing their support to the families and undertaking a range of measures to help them feel more welcome and secure. These efforts have been welcomed by the families. However in recent months the wider media have reported incidents of anti-Syrian graffiti or statements in different areas of Northern Irelandv, increasing families’ fears. WHO RUNS CITY HALL ? WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A NEWLY ELECTED BELFAST CITY C OUNCILLOR 1. Support the recent call by Housing4Allvi, welcomed by Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance Party, People Before Profit and the Green Party for the establishment of a City Council oversight sub-committee charged with ensuring the provision and standard of housing provided through UK Home Office schemes to ensure they meet the appropriate international and local housing standards. 2. Where households fail to meet international and local housing standards, council should engage with the relevant authorities to discontinue contracts with any landlord or company . 3. Encourage and support housing association plans for affordable and social housing. Acceptance of poor standards across the private rental sector increases when the supply of available social housing decreases. There is an urgent need to secure additional new build social housing and Council needs to fulfil its role in ensuring land is made available through their planning processes. 4. Share this brief with colleagues and on social media to raise awareness of the situation of VPRS Syrians in our communities and increase solidarity with them. Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. Summary of Syrian Families Settled in Northern Ireland: Dec 2015 Feb 2019 (Groups 1 – 19), 9 Apr 2019 at https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/publications/syrianvulnerable-persons-relocation-scheme p. 1, updated by the Briefing Document of April 2019 at https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/publications/syrian-vulnerable-persons-relocation-scheme i

Bryson Intercultural (contract manager), Barnardos, the British Red Cross, Save the Children, Extern, Law Centre NI and South Belfast Roundtable ii

iii

April 2019 Briefing Document p. 13.

iv

VPRS Summary, 9 Apr 2019, p. 8.

See inter alia Belfast Telegraph, “Loyalists forced Belfast mum who converted to Islam from her home – children suffered vile abuse”, 6 Jun 2019 at https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northernv


ireland/loyalists-forced-belfast-mum-who-converted-to-islam-from-her-home-children-suffered-vileabuse-38186969.html; Belfast Telegraph, “Ex-National Front boss leads protest against Syrian refugees settling in Northern Ireland”, 27 Mar 2019 at https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northernireland/exnational-front-boss-leads-protest-against-syrian-refugees-settling-in-northern-ireland37954838.html ‘A Prison Without Walls: Asylum, Migration and Human Rights’, PPR, June 2019 at https://www.pprproject.org/sites/default/files/documents/H4All%20Report%20June%202019%20Fin al%2017.06.19.pdf vi

Profile for Participation and the Practice  of Rights (PPR)

Build Homes Now - A briefing for Belfast City Councillors  

There is plenty of land availble in Belfast to tackle the homeless crisis which impacts over 15,000 children. #BuildHomesNow have developed...

Build Homes Now - A briefing for Belfast City Councillors  

There is plenty of land availble in Belfast to tackle the homeless crisis which impacts over 15,000 children. #BuildHomesNow have developed...

Profile for ppr-org
Advertisement