RESIDENTS living in three streets off the Springfield Road have launched a campaign calling for better housing after various reports of mould and dampness in houses in the area.

The campaign calling for the redevelopment of Fort Street, Forest Street and Forfar Street has been launched by residents Róisín Lynch and Seán Doherty from the Beechmount Residents Collective. 

“The houses are unfit,” said Seán Doherty. “In the 21st century I don’t think anybody should be living like this.”

The campaigners have engaged with residents living within the community to discuss poor living conditions within their homes including black mould, dampness and an influx of slugs. 

“The amount of people I’ve spoken to who have issues with asthma,” said Róisín. “My own daughter suffers from asthma.

“The other day I spoke to 66 people and out of 20 houses one or multiple people suffered from either constant sickness, asthma, or COPD. It’s shocking.”

Róisín added: “My daughter sleeps in my room most of the time. Her chest is always bad, her cough is ridiculous. I spoke to another girl who was from the next street. Her child had asthma. They moved out five years ago and her asthma has cleared up. This is worrying.

“When I moved in to the house my wall was wet, it was said that this was because it had been plastered. This went on months and months. In the end, they put a fake wall on top of it. Now I have to hover the paint off my ceiling because it’s flaking. It’s shocking.”

Both Róisín and Seán have said that while the streets are a mixture between Housing Executive homes and private landlords, the Housing Executive homes “seem to have the most issues".

One of the homes with mould and damp

One of the homes with mould and damp

“Everyone has dampness, very few people have said they don’t,” said Róisín.

“Most of the people we are talking to are saying the exact same thing,” added Seán. “Between how much gas we’re putting in and how much stuff we are having to throw out. I’ve had to throw out curtains and I had to throw bedding out there again last week.

“There is black mould in the children’s mattresses. The thought of your kids getting sick – it would put your head away. I had to move my kids out of the room. There’s black mould on the toys. My wee girl has a bad chest and I’ve noticed she’s been getting worse.”

The campaigners have said once the heating is turned off that the houses are “freezing".

Róisín said her home is constantly cold and it never holds in heat.

“As soon as your heat goes off, you’re freezing. I have to have the heating on for at least three hours before I attempt to bath my seven-year-old.

Seán continued: “These houses are not built for today’s gas. Last night I put that heat on and I’m still freezing."

They say that the aim of the campaign is to get “better and safer housing" for residents.

A damp wall beside the boiler in another residents home

A damp wall beside the boiler in another residents home

“These houses are brick on brick, they’re so old. There is no safe place for our kids. It’s very busy with cars. There are no back gardens, there’s no front gardens. I have a wee girl and a wee boy. There’s no safe place for them to play. In a society like this it should be gardens and have your own privacy,” said Seán.

“We’re always left. We’ve just been forgotten about,” added Róisín.

A Housing Executive spokesperson said: “Our maintenance officers have already attended both of these properties and damp surveys have been arranged.

“If issues are raised by these surveys they will be resolved as quickly as possible. Our priority is always to ensure that our tenants live in safe, warm and dry homes.
“We ask tenants to report suspected cases of damp and mould in their homes to us immediately so we can determine the cause and take remedial action.  
“We take this issue very seriously and inspect any report we receive as a priority, with a maintenance officer inspecting each report of damp, mould or condensation. We also pick up incidences of damp and mould through our own surveys.

Mould growing in a resident's window

Mould growing in a resident's window

“When there is a one-off issue, specific to an individual property, then it will most likely be addressed through our response repair service. 

“Over the last five years, we received a total of 1.6 million repair requests (excluding heating repairs), of which 26,000 mentioned issues with condensation or damp.

“If there is a cluster of reports in a particular location, then we will address these through a planned maintenance scheme. These works comprise of improved ventilation, insulation and heating.
“We always liaise with our tenants to address their concerns and advice and guidance is also available on our website and our tenant portal.”

The campaigners have made contact with all political parties and representatives and have said "this is going to take everyone working together to get better homes."

Sean said he has met with People Before Profit Gerry Carroll MLA and Cllr Matt Collins and the IRSP.

People Before Profit Councillor Matt Collins has praised residents who have launched a campaign to redevelop Fort, Forest and Forfar Street.  
“These houses are over 100 years old and they have proven increasingly difficult to maintain,” he stated.  
“A recent survey of residents found that an overwhelming majority of properties are cold, damp, and covered in mould. This presents a serious health and safety risk and it obviously untenable.   


“I want to thank local community activists for highlighting the concerns of residents and for launching this important campaign. The Housing Executive should explore options, in conjunction with residents, to redevelop the area and make it fit for habitation.”  

Sinn Féin Cllr Claire Canavan said: “There are residents in Fort, Forest and Forfar Street who are living in homes overrun by damp and mould.

“No one should be living in these conditions in this day and age. There is a clear link between living in these Victorian conditions and ill-health particularly among the vulnerable, the elderly and children. That is unacceptable."