Catholics waiting longer than Protestants for social housing: report

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A report by the Equality Commission has highlighted figures indicating that Catholics are waiting longer than Protestants in order to obtain social housing.

The report – entitled ‘Statement on Key Inequalities in Housing and Communities in Northern Ireland’ and published today – cites figures showing that Catholic applicants wait a median length of 15 months to attain social housing, whereas the median waiting time for Protestants is nine months.

These figures – the most recent ones that the report provides – date back to 2013/14.

The Equality Commission went on to state that “median waiting times had increased for all groups” in years preceding 2013/14 – but particularly so for Catholics.

It said that during the years spanning 2004 and 2009, the median waiting time for Catholics had been eight months. For Protestants it had been six months.

Meanwhile, applicants whose religion was given as ‘other’ had a median waiting time of six months from 2004-2009. By 2013/14, this had become 13 months.

Dr Evelyn Collins, Equality Commission chief executive said: “We acknowledge that progress has been made to improve housing stock and develop access to suitable accommodation across Northern Ireland over the past decades, but there is compelling evidence that work still needs to be done to address enduring inequalities, which continue to affect people across our community.”

The report from the Equality Commission was accompanied by a series of case studies of people.

They included Shauna, “a young Catholic mother from north Belfast with four children”, who aimed to move from a two-bedroom flat to a house in Ligoniel, describing her present situation as “surviving, not living”.

Whilst there was no case study involving a Protestant, there were also case studies of a gay couple, a Sudanese man, and two focusing on people with disabilities.

Another element in the report looked at travellers and found “access to appropriate accommodation” to be “limited”.

It cited figures stating that around one-fifth to one-third of travellers travel, adding that “bricks and mortar/settled accommodation may be inappropriate where it does not accord with their nomadic lifestyle”.