New social housing in the Lower Oldpark has been allocated to tenants who have zero points on the housing need scale, the North Belfast News can reveal.
The five houses, which were part of a redevelopment of 26 derelict houses were allocated by Clanmil Housing Association.
The awarding of houses to people in North Belfast with effectively no housing need came to light during questions at Stormont on Tuesday when Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey discussed concerns over the building and allocation of houses in the north of the city where housing need in nationalist areas is at a critical level.
The homes in question were renovated under the housing led regeneration pilot scheme championed by DSD Minister Nelson McCausland.
Six areas across Northern Ireland have been included in the programme, with two in his own constituency of North Belfast – Lower Oldpark and Tigers Bay.
In a statement to the North Belfast News, a Clanmill spokesman confirmed houses were allocated to people with no points.
“The allocation of the 26 homes was carried out in accordance with the housing selection scheme. They were allocated on the basis of housing points ranging from 320 points, with five homes allocated with no points.”
Clanmil said they had complied fully with Housing Executive rules as regards to allocation of houses at all times.
In a statement the Housing Executive said that all homes should be distributed under their points system.
“All social housing allocations made by the Housing Executive or Registered Housing Associations are made on the basis of need as determined by the points awarded under the Housing Selection Scheme – a scheme that was equality proofed and subject to detailed and widespread consultation. Allocations cannot be made on any other grounds.”
A spokesman for the DSD said the matter was an issue for the Housing Executive.
“Management of the social housing waiting list is an operational matter for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.”
Clanmil said the development in the lower Oldpark was an attempt to “recreate” a community.
Many of the homes in the area were abandoned during the loyalist feuds in the early 2000s.
“Lower Oldpark is one of six areas within a DSD housing-led regeneration pilot project launched in October 2013. This initiative, which is part of the ‘Facing the Future – Housing Strategy for Northern Ireland’, aims to use housing as one of the main catalysts for local regeneration in communities that have suffered decline and dereliction, helping to transform them into vibrant and sustainable communities where people want to live.
“Clanmil was nominated by NIHE to undertake this project in Lower Oldpark which involved the transfer of 26 vacant homes from NIHE to Clanmil for refurbishment to bring them back into use.
“The aim of housing led regeneration is to recreate a vibrant community.”