International Wall Mural

Equality Can’t Wait have spent a whirlwind few weeks rapping doors, hanging signs, delivering leaflets, painting murals, lobbying political parties and gathering public support for the #BuildHomesNow campaign. 

There are over 12,000 on the social housing waiting list in Belfast. Over 6,000 are in ‘housing stress’. Yet, only 542 homes were completed in 2015. 

The families, from all over the city, have identified empty land at Dunnes/Hillview, Mackies, Monagh Bypass, Sirocco Quays and Belfast Harbour which could be used to build at least 1,000 homes.

They are calling on political leaders to support people in dire need of housing by using their powers at Stormont and Belfast City Council to ensure new build social housing is maximised on the available land.

Equality Can't Wait families at StormontPolitical Support - SDLP, Alliance, Sinn Féin

Public support has been tremendous.

5,000 leaflets have been delivered and almost 1,000 signatures collected on the doors in Twinbrook, Poleglass, Beechmount, Andersonstown, Divis, The Markets, New Lodge, Ardoyne, Old Park, Cliftonville, Ligoniel and Whitewell in just four weeks. Shops, clubs, employers and community centres in areas of chronic housing demand have put up posters, stickers, leaflets and petitions. Five political parties running for election on May 5th - Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance, Green Party and People Before Profit - have already signed up to support #BuildHomesNow.

Black taxi drivers and passengers support

Equality Can’t Wait activist Mary from north Belfast said; 

“The support has been great. Everyone we have met, both politicians and people on the doors, have supported our campaign. Now we need to see that support turned into actual homes for families on these sites. Dunnes Stores/Hillview is a potential game changer. It’s one of the last sites in north Belfast capable of addressing the housing crisis”.

The families’ campaign for equality has secured the support of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, the UN Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner.

Locally, the Human Rights Commission, the Children’s Commissioner and most recently the Equality Commission have called for action to tackle religious inequality in housing.

At a recent political Hustings in North Belfast the families again raised the issues of persisting religious inequality in housing and the failure to build homes based on need, as required by law.

Most of the election hopefuls recognised the scale of the problem particularly in light of the recent deaths of homeless people on the streets of Belfast.

However, there were strong disagreements about how to address the housing crisis, not least on how to tackle long standing religious inequality. Five of the eight parties, were happy to support a strategy to tackle religious inequality and the #BuildHomesNow campaign. If elected they will have the power to change social housing policy for the better in the new Assembly.

Seán Brady, Development Worker with PPR said it’s time for action;

‘There is no denying the need for housing. There is willingness to build from the Housing Executive and Federation of Housing Associations. There’s massive community and political support.  But land is running out fast and there is longer any excuse not to build social housing on these sites. The Equality Can’t Wait families, and the thousands of others like them, deserve a Fresh Start on housing. The new Minister of Communities can deliver that with the support of the political parties who have committed to tackling homelessness and inequality’

Click here to see a short video about the Equality Can’t Wait campaign.