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Housing reorganisation plans welcomed - Grehan

Alliance’s Alderman Amanda Grehan has welcomed the comprehensive statement on housing from Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín MLA.

Alderman Grehan said: “This statement from Minister Ní Chuilín represents the biggest shake up of housing since the Housing Executive was formed in 1971 and is to be warmly welcomed.

“As a member of the Board of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, I am all too aware of the constraints under which the organisation has been working, while the numbers of those in housing stress or registered homeless increases year on year. Restrictions on the amount of finance available has led to the rapid deterioration of Housing Executive owned housing stock, meaning many tenants having to live in unsatisfactory conditions.

“I welcome the commitment from the Minister that the Housing Executive will be reorganised with a mutual arm able to borrow money so it can maintain existing housing stock and eventually start building new homes. There are currently almost 30,000 families on the waiting list with an average of just 1550 new social homes built each year. We urgently need to start bridging that gap.

“The private rented sector has an important role to play in housing families right across Northern Ireland and I welcome the Minister’s aim to improve the safety, security and quality of this sector.

“Several years ago the Minister’s Department carried out a Fundamental Review of Social Housing Allocations, and the Minister has now said that she will publish an action plan for implementing changes, with a particular focus on intimidation points. This is an important area and I welcome this review.

“The Minister also committed to working with Councils through Local Development Plans and I will work to ensure my Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh, fully plays our part. Social housing must be provided where it is needed most, and waiting lists in my area have been increasing.

“I can assure Minister Ní Chuilín that she will not find Alliance party representatives wanting when it comes to supporting her drive to improve housing in Northern Ireland.”