Councillors from Belfast City Council have been briefed by the Housing Executive on its work in the city over the past year and its plans for the year ahead.
Housing Executive Chief Executive, Grainia Long, reflected on the unprecedented year, which saw the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and noted how the organisation had changed how it works to ensure customers were cared for.
She said; “Covid-19 presented huge challenges for us, as we moved staff out of offices to work at home, while lockdown restrictions and supply issues meant a backlog in tacking repairs and delays in much needed upgrade schemes on our estates.
“Despite this, and thanks to the dedication of our staff, we were able to continue to deliver services to tenants and communities to an extremely high level.
“£116m was invested in new-build accommodation in the city, which saw 792 of housing starts getting underway, while housing completions for the year were 303 meaning targets were met/exceeded for the year, despite the pandemic.
“We provided £438,000 in grant funding to support local groups in the Belfast region, across several funding streams, including our Community Grants, Community Safety, Areas at Risk and Community Cohesion programmes.
“In terms of homelessness, there were 5,314 homelessness presentations last year, with 3,326 homelessness acceptances.
“Given the necessity to social distance the hostels in Belfast, this situation placed enormous pressure on temporary accommodation in the city and as we emerge from the pandemic, our reset plan, The Way Home, has been fully funded by the Department for Communities.
“We also took the opportunity to brief Councillors on our Tower Block strategy, which will see the demolition of our high-rise housing stock in years to come.
“To date, eight business cases for demolition have been approved by our Board, while four have already received departmental approval.
“I’d like to sincerely thank the Belfast City Councillors for their interest in our work and I very much look forward to engaging with them as we move away from the Covid pandemic in the year ahead.”
For more information, go to nihe.gov.uk.