Latest housing bulletin shows social housing waiting list hitting unprecedented highs

by | May 23, 2024 | News

The Housing Bulletin

This morning the Department for Communities released the latest edition of its Housing Bulletin for January to March 2024. The statistics record another rise in the number of households on the social housing waiting list since the publication of the last bulletin in February. On 31 March 2024, there were 47,312 households on the social housing waiting list with 75% (35,464 households) experiencing housing stress.

Over the last decade, the number of households on the social housing waiting list has increased by 18% from 39,967 in March 2014 to 47,312. Over the same period, the number of households in housing stress has increased from 21,586 to 35,464, an increase of 64.3%.

The vast majority of households in housing stress have homelessness status, equating to 28,614 households in December 2023. A recent freedom of information request showed that 55,589 individuals were part of households with homelessness status on December 31 2023. In March 2013, the equivalent household figure stood at 12,431 so the number of households with homelessness status has increased by 130% over that time.

Our Response

Commenting on these figures, Mark Baillie, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Homeless Connect said:

“These figures highlight the level of housing need in Northern Ireland today. They starkly highlight the reality that tens of thousands of people are simply unable to access affordable and social housing suitable to their needs. Without concerted action and funding, the number of people on the social housing waiting list will only continue to grow.

Unfortunately, the proposed budget for 2024/5 holds out little hope for the housing and homelessness sectors who work tirelessly to support people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The Department for Communities is facing a cut of 38.2% in its capital budget in 2024/5 compared to 2023/4, which will reduce the number of new starts for social homes

The resource budget for the Department of Communities is also being cut by 0.6%, piling more pressure on to the Department tasked with leading the NI Executive response to the housing and homelessness crisis this society is experiencing.

Due to the level of housing need, key funding for homelessness prevention measures is being diverted towards provision of temporary accommodation from private sector landlords and B&B providers. In January of this year, officials in the Department for Communities indicated that the Housing Executive estimates it will spend £45.8 million on the provision of this accommodation. This compares to £7.5 million five years ago in 2019/20.

Crucially, this spending does not even include funding for hostels provided by the voluntary sector and support funded through the Supporting People programme. The baseline for this budget has been frozen in cash terms for over a decade, being eroded year on year by the impact of inflation. Many providers are struggling to maintain services and in some cases are even considering handing back contracts.

These budget allocations will have very real consequences for people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Too many people are finding themselves living with the anxiety of housing instability, living in informal arrangements, unsuitable accommodation or in temporary accommodation. With the right resources and the right policy, this situation can change. Without it, the social housing waiting list will only continue to grow in the months and years to come.”


  1. You can read the Department for Communities Housing Bulletin for January to March 2024 here.
  2. The Northern Ireland Fiscal Council Report on the 2024/5 budget can be found here. See the table on p27 for the resource budget figure and p36 for the capital budget figure.
  3. The estimate of £45.8 million for 2024/5 was provided at the Departmental Management Board in January 2024.
  4. The figure for the number of households with homelessness status was released in a Freedom of Information request published by the Housing Executive.
  5. You can read the historical housing list data on p2-4 of this response to an Assembly Question tabled by Andy Allen MLA and answered by the then Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey MLA.
  6. You can read a more detailed briefing on the key statistics here.



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