The Strangford MLA said investment was needed to also manage existing housing in order to provide maintenance and improve standards in order to meet climate change targets. She added private landlords could play a role by not pushing rents beyond affordability for most people.
“The New Decade, New Approach agreement made a commitment from all parties to have a housing outcome,” she said.
“Now more than ever we need to invest capital monies into housing if we are to provide suitable homes. With affordable and sustainable homes, we will have a healthier community and children who will have a better start to life and their educational outcomes.
“We must invest in the housing strategy to building an appropriate number of social housing to meet need. In addition, an investment strategy must be developed to manage existing housing stock, in order to provide appropriate maintenance and improve standards, of all homes, so we can meet climate change targets. One of Alliance’s priorities for any returning Executive is to ensure this investment happens.
“Private landlords can also play a role in this. We have reports, particularly in Belfast, of rent increases of up to 50 per cent. The result is more private renters are unable to afford rents, adding to the growing need for more social housing options across Belfast and Northern Ireland. The new Private Tenancies Act coming into force next month does not put a cap on how much rent can be charged.
“Any new Communities Minister must examine this before private landlords who have indicated they may leave the market and remove their properties from the private rented sector. Otherwise we will see more housing stress created in a region where we do not have enough social homes to meet need to begin with.”