'Waiting on a childhood: The Plight of Children on the Housing Waiting List'
2018 West Belfast Festival
2nd of August at 7pm, Conway Mill  

Information received by the #BuildHomesNow and #EqualityCantWait campaigns has revealed that as of March 2018 a total of 36,198 households are on the social housing waiting list.

According to our analysis of Housing Executive figures this includes at least 20,950 children in families.

These 20,950 children and their families have been waiting years for a place to call a home.

While they are waiting they are living in hostels. They live in temporary single let accommodationThis live in expensive, insecure rented accommodation with unaccountable landlords.

They live in housing with such poor conditions that their children are being made sick.

 Or they sofa surf, relying on the charity of family and friends. 

These children have nowhere to play, they are frequently made to move schools and forced to leave friends behind.

Some of these families made this film.

These are families who have commissioned economists to research and write reports proving that there is money, families who have gone round their communities photographing empty land and derelict sites - proving that there is land.

These families have filed human rights complaints and written on numerous occasions to politicians, ministers, and housing providers. These families have been monitoring the housing conditions in their areas and have supplied evidence to our Executive and United Nations Committees and Rapporteurs on how their human rights are being denied. 

#BuildHomesNow commissioned an architect to provide an alternative vision to retail driven development at the Hillview site in North Belfast - a social housing eco-village that could house 14% of the waiting list in north Belfast.

Despite all this work, the group continue to come up against barriers and lack of political will.

Twice the work and determination of the #BuildHomesNow group has forced the UN to call for action, 49 MLAs have signed pledges but the Executive and public authorities, who have a statutory obligation to prmote equality, continue to do nothing to address this persisting inequality.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that people in positions of authority; such as those who work for the housing executive, Department for Communities, and Belfast City Council have a duty to act in the best interests of the child, they have a duty to help every child thrive and reach their fullest potential.

As the testimony of the children in this film evidences, the statutory bodies are failing in these duties.

This film has been made by the children and families affected by homelessness and housing stress in Belfast and calls on Clark Bailie (CEO of the Housing Executive), Leo O’Reilly (Permanent Sectary of the Department for Communities) and Suzanne Wylie (Chief Executive of Belfast City Council) - as the three decision makers who hold the power and are jointly responsible for the funding, planning, and development of social housing in the north - to ACT NOW.

We are calling for the land at Hillview, Mackies, Sirrocco, Gas Works and others to be vested, freed up for public use and for significant and sustainable social housing to be constructed to fulfill the rights of the children, and others like them, profiled in this video.