Belfast Family Left in Harmful Housing Conditions over Christmas by Statutory Bodies.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas the IRSP in North Belfast were made aware of a housing issue in the lower Antrim Road area involving a young family with 8 children. The tenants have been trying desperately for over a year to convince both North Belfast Housing Association (NBH) and the NI Housing Executive (NIHE) that the property is not fit for purpose.

The house suffers from continual water saturation as a consequence of defective brickwork and plaster which has been ongoing and long term. Rather than recognise the inherent cause and address this outright through a full renovation or the rehousing of the family, NBH have instead been providing repair work only as and when is required. Inevitably, after such repair work has taken place, the leaks again occur with increased frequency and ferocity. This is because patch-up repairs can simply not fix the underlying issue with the structure.

To highlight this, before Christmas NBH believed a series of dehumidifiers would address the issue, and from this the IRSP mediated on behalf of NBH and the family so that a dehumidifier could be installed in the kitchen area in the hope that this would alleviate things over the Christmas period.

Unfortunately, in-spite of the dehumidifier running over the Christmas period we were notified yesterday that the leakages have gotten much worse with walls and ceilings becoming once again fully saturated with water. This is not surprising to us and it is clear that NBH simply do not have the resources to carry out the proper maintenance work and instead rely upon a continual series of small repair works and other inept solutions. This is not feasible long term and has induced severe stress on this large and young family. Indeed, some of the youngest children have been in hospital due to chest and other lung related issue over the last year.

More worrying still, the appointed housing officer from NIHE refuses to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with the property, because NBH has given it a clean bill of health. We therefore ask both NIHE and NBH to review the letter, dated the 20th of December this year, from Belfast City Council outlining 7 serious faults with the property.

Temporary Dehumidifier installed.

It is clear that other agendas are at play here. The IRSP believe both entities are fully aware of the drastic inadequacies of the house, but simply do not have the resources to rehouse such a large family and instead rely on a series of short term inadequate solutions. In this day and age this is shear negligence on behalf of the state towards those it claims to look after and represent. We ask that NBH and NIHE work together in a prudent manner so that a long-term solution can be implemented quickly. The IRSP will continue to persevere on the families behalf.