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.

UN Recognise the Work Seven Towers Residents Group

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recognised the work of the Belfast based Seven Towers Residents Group as an international best practice example of using international human rights standards to make local change.

In the aftermath of recent ‘Equality Can’t Wait’ actions by north Belfast residents, five women in four separate parts of the constituency, each in their own way enduring the effects of the failing social housing system, wrote detailed letters to the NIHE asking for answers.

Equality Can't Wait Campaign Visits the Minister

A group of over 30 mothers and children on the social housing waiting list in north Belfast visited the Department for Social Development on Monday 6th August, to deliver a petition asking for equality legislation to be implemented in NI’s social housing new build programme.

Seven Towers Residents Group

As the Minister for Social Development, Nelson Mc Causland MLA, addressed the NI Assembly on Girdwood last Thursday (5th July 2012), the Seven Towers Residents Group went on a tour of the constituency offices of north Belfast politicians, asking what they are doing to address chronic housing inequalities in their constituency.

The Seven Towers Residents Group has been busy in recent weeks knocking hundreds of doors across north Belfast, where there has been widespread support for their petition demanding that The Minister for Social Development lives up to the law and builds housing where it is needed. To help explain the reasons behind the campaign they have produced a short Film - Equality Can’t Wait.

STRG Bring Evidence of Continued Housing Inequality to Brussels

Angie Mc Manus and Marissa Mc Mahon of the seven towers residents group travelled to Brussels to participate in the 11th EU meeting of people experiencing poverty. To read their report click 'read more' below.

Dignity and poverty

North Belfast housing activists, Marissa Mc Mahon and Angie Mc Manus will form part of the NI Anti Poverty Network delegation to Brussels this week to raise issues of continued housing inequality.

The delegation will meet with housing activists across Europe to inform the European Anti Poverty Network’s annual report to the European Parliament on housing and homelessness. The event is being organised by the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg Visits Seven Towers, North Belfast, as Part of His Visit to the UK

“The work of the Seven Towers residents, and indeed all of the groups I met today who are supported by PPR, is playing a crucial role in promoting human rights. During this era of austerity, it is even more essential for government to take targeted measures to respect, protect and fulfil human rights - particularly for the most vulnerable. This requires vulnerable groups identifying violations, accessing information and scrutinising decisions, and engaging with government. A strong culture and practice of accountability and transparency are required to do this effectively. The work of these groups is central to that core mission.” – Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (December 2011)

PPR logo

PPR responded to consultations on the planned operation of the Social Investment Fund and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s proposal to create a Belfast City Centre waiting list for social housing. As the Social Investment Fund is OFMDFM’s primary resourced policy to address inequality and objective need in some of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland, PPR expresses concern about the lack of transparent criteria by which investment will be allocated, and the failure to adhere to equality legislation that would ensure that the proposed investment reaches those in most need.

Seven Towers Balcony

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive NIHE were forced to publicly apologise after a recent response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Seven Towers Residents’ Group (STRG) revealed that specialist consultants advised the NIHE in June 2011 of their ‘serious concern over the condition of the metal surrounds to the balcony glazing units’ and recommended ‘in our opinion, it would not be unreasonable to stop people from using these balconies in due course.’

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