In 2007 PPR began working with residents in the Seven Towers high rise complex in North Belfast. Decades of neglect and poor maintenance have left the Seven Towers severely run down. That families continue to be housed in poor conditions in high rise housing points to the real issue – that years after the end of the conflict, housing inequality impacting Catholics in North Belfast continues to exist.

The group have achieved significant improvements in the flats complex including; the removal of pigeon waste from communal landings, the replacement of the sewage system which frequently overflowed through baths and sinks, changes in multimillon pound plans which ignored residents needs and the re-housing of the majority of families into more suitable accommodation. In 2012 they launched the ‘Equality Can’t Wait’ campaign, involving residents from across North Belfast impacted by the issue. The group are calling for a time-bound, resourced strategy to finally tackle housing inequality in North Belfast.

United Nations human rights expert, Maria Virginía Brás Gomes, recently visited Belfast and held discussions with local PPR groups campaigning for improvements on housing, employment, mental health and social security rights.  

Ms. Brás Gomes is a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and will be examining the UK government’s human rights performance in 2016.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) have become the latest rights institutions to express concern about the ongoing failure by the NI Executive to tackle religious inequality in North Belfast housing.

Rathcoole Regeneration Group, supported by PPR, have welcomed the decision by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to rent out 30 publicly owned but empty flats in their area to address housing need, but are insistent that much more needs to be done to fulfil housing rights obligations impacting their community.

Residents deliver research to harbour commission Chief Executive

Today the Equality Can’t Wait campaign, made up of homeless families living in hostels and substandard accommodation from across Belfast, delivered new research to housing authorities and elected representatives on available land and money to tackle the housing crisis.

Equality Can't Wait: Homeless families 'flash mob' Hillsborough Castle and call on Secretary of State to implement United Nations’ recommendations following ongoing failure by Stormont to tackle the housing crisis

In a recent TEDx talk entitled "Equality - the Road Less Travelled", former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Professor Paul Hunt cited the example of the Seven Towers Residents' Group's work on claiming equality rights.

"Equality - the Road Less Travelled" featured in the first TEDx University of Essex event ‘Promise through Research’ which was held in October 2014 as part of the University's 50th anniversary celebrations.

Activists from Equality Can’t Wait and Homeless Action put their human rights campaigns on the housing Chief Executive’s agenda.

On Tuesday 14th October 2014, 15 housing activists from the Equality Can’t Wait and Homeless Action campaigns held a positive first meeting with Ms. Mags Lightbody, Chief Executive of the NI Housing Executive.

Residents involved in the Equality Can't Wait group have written to MLA’s requesting that they use their powers to make the demand for a time-bound, resourced strategy to tackle religious inequality in housing an Executive priority. Religious inequality in social housing in North Belfast has been a subject of controversy for a number of years, culminating in interventions and recommendations by international institutions.

Equality Can't Wait group at Hillview site in North Belfast

PPR have raised questions over a number of troubling land deals conducted by the Department for Communities which resulted in a loss to the public purse of over £1.1 million.

Information received under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that the Department spent huge sums of public money over the last ten years buying private land for social housing where the need for additional homes is low.

Nicola Browne, Director (Policy) at PPR said;

On Wednesday (24th May 2017) Travellers of North Cork launched their Accommodation Rights Charter campaign in University College Cork, alongside plans to monitor the Irish state's progressive realisation of their right to accommodation over the next year.

PPR have been working with TNC since the summer of 2016.


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