“The failure of the Housing Executive to meet even a modest rural homes target shows the need for an immediate programme of new-builds,” said Sinn Féin Slieve Croob Cllr John Rice.
Cllr Rice was commenting on the Housing Executive’s first annual Sustainable Rural Communities report which he described as “extremely disappointing”.
He added: “The report conceded that even the very modest target relating to unmet need for social housing in rural areas has not been met. This will come as no surprise to young families in rural communities such as Drumaroad and Liatriom who have been waiting for suitable new homes for years now.
“The Housing Executive had set a target of 166 new build social housing units for the year 2016/17 but only actually began construction work on 84, almost half of which were ‘off the shelf’ purchases so not technically new-builds.
“The need for additional social housing in rural areas across Newry Mourne and Down has been clearly demonstrated and needs urgent action, including an immediate and ambitions new-build programme.”