ALLIANCE Equality Spokesperson Eileen Bell MLA has welcomed moves by the Housing Executive to promote integrated housing in Northern Ireland today.
Mrs Bell, Alliance Party Deputy Leader, stated:
“Greater provision of integrated housing is of vital importance to building a shared future in Northern Ireland, and Alliance has always argued that there should be more efforts made to promote it.
“While it would be impossible to force people from different backgrounds to live together, it cannot be denied that there is demand for more mixed housing, and I am glad that the Housing Executive has recognised this during Community Relations Week.
“There are currently around 400 families from a mixed background on the NIHE’s waiting list, and I am hopeful that these two pilot projects will help address this situation to a significant extent.
“It is important that people who choose to live in mixed neighbourhoods can do so safely and without fear of intimidation.
“While incentives can be put in place to encourage people to live together, real progress depends upon removing the underlying causes that force people to live apart, and undermine mixed areas. At one level, this involves addressing them mindset of ‘them’ and ‘us’ that pushes people to live with ‘their own kind’, and at another level, tackling the sectarian violence and intimidation that creates fear in existing mixed communities, and deters others from moving into them.
“Fundamentally, people need to have a sense of security to live with confidence in mixed areas, and know that they will be supported in their choice by society.”