On the 1st April 2015 ECW launched a 38 Page photo mapping report on the available land for social housing in Belfast. Families on the housing waiting list had meticulously detailed the land and money available to tackle the housing crisis. Their report was delivered to housing decision makers and the Political Parties who have pledged to tackle religious inequality in housing.  In late 2015 religious inequality in housing, overwhelmingly impacting Catholic families is still a prominent part of the new Northern Ireland.

Support needs turned into action: Families on the waiting list in north and west Belfast know the unchanging reality of high demand areas well, as do housing providers. That’s why the ECW families, more interested in solutions than repeating the problems, have been meeting decision makers to get their support to build on the land they have identified.

Cameron Watt, Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations - collectively responsible for building social housing - met with the group twice to discuss the report. NIFHA have since issued a letter of support.  The message received loud and clear is that the Housing Associations are keen to build homes on the land.

The former Chief Executive of the NIHE, Ms Mags Lightbody, whom the group had met with previously, wrote a letter of ‘unequivocal support’ to see the land brought into use for social housing. The message received loud and clear was that the NIHE are keen to see homes built on the land.

Further International and domestic interventions: NI Executive Parties and the Department for Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey, MLA have yet to respond to the residents report and proposals but international and domestic human rights bodies have.

The North Belfast Green Party met ECW and pledged to include the call to build on the identified land in their upcoming election manifesto. ECW families took the Children’s Commissioner, Koulla Yiasouma and a United Nations task force representative on a tour of North Belfast Housing in early September. NICCY then released a strong statement of and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission released a similar statement in turn. ECW also met with and brought UN expert Virginia Bras Gomez on a tour of the sites available to tackle the housing crisis in areas of high demand.

In the months since releasing their land report ECW has grown to campaign with many more people across the city experiencing similar human rights failings in housing provision. ECW does this by helping families to gather evidence and present it to the Minister and Housing Authorities

ECW have campaigned alongside Rathcoole residents to see refurbished flats going to waste brought into use in North Belfast.  They have welcomed refugee families fleeing their new homes in Belfast following racist attacks then suffering a double injustice because their situations are not viewed as ‘intimidation’ by the NIHE points system.

Over 125 families including catholic families, protestant families, refugee families and traveller families have joined the ECW campaign to shine a light on the duty bearers who are failing their families and communities. 88% had their housing need more appropriately recognised in the award of additional housing points; 79% were made offers of housing; 72% had repairs to their properties completed; 36% were awarded financial compensation; and 41% were re-housed into appropriate accommodation.

Yet, as the campaign has grown it is also shined a light on the inescapable fact that the systemic problems are not being addressed.  Despite the positive work resident have done to date, recently the new NIHE Chief Executive, Mr Clark Baillie began to disengage.  Residents were forced to take action again.   While they wait for answers, their campaign to get support for homes for families on the land they have identified continues. If you would like to support ECW get in touch by email to or phone 02890 313315.