Councillors from Ards and North Down Borough Council have been briefed by the Housing Executive on work in the Borough over the past year and plans for the year ahead.
Housing Executive Chief Executive Grainia Long reported: “We invested over £195m in 2021/22, the highest level of investment since 2007/08 and - for the first time in 20 years – we will soon commence building new homes for social rent via a pilot project.
“In Ards and North Down, we invested £9.68m on planned maintenance including stock improvements last year, with a further £4.21m spent on response maintenance.
“Over the past two years, we’ve provided a wide range of assistance to tenants and communities, supporting them through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we continue to pro-actively engage with and support tenants who face additional ‘cost of living’ and lifestyle adjustment pressures.”
The Housing Executive, through the Supporting People programme, invested £5.53m to fund 71 Housing Support Services across the Ards and North Down Borough Council area, providing housing support to 1,454 clients last year.
“Across the borough, 1,228 people who presented as homeless were accepted for support last year. A strategic shift in favour of homelessness prevention and early intervention is critical if we’re to provide a sustainable model of provision to prevent homelessness.
“£50k in grant funding was provided to support local groups in the Borough, across several funding streams, including our Community Grants, Community Safety and Community Cohesion programmes.”
Grainia continued: “Our focus is working with partners to lever in funding to scale-up the implementation of energy efficiency measures, across all housing tenures, to effectively tackle climate change and reduce fuel poverty.
“We face a major housing challenge in every council area, with continuing demand for social housing and homelessness services.
“Last year, £11.11m was invested in new-build accommodation in the Borough, with 69 housing starts getting underway, 108 units on-site at March 2022, while housing completions for the year were 45.
“Waiting lists for social housing, as well as levels of homelessness, have risen significantly in recent years and show little sign of falling.
“Despite sustained levels of investment in new social housing across Northern Ireland, the gap between housing demand and supply continues to widen,” she said.
“Against a backdrop of rising waiting lists, the Housing Executive recognises the importance of continued partnership with councils and the housing sector and the need for sustained levels of funding for social housing to address rising levels of homelessness and growing waiting lists.
“The Minister for Communities’ programme for the revitalisation of the Housing Executive offers the key to a future that will deliver additional, more energy efficient and more appropriate homes.
“Housing has an economic, environmental and social mission and by working together as Community Planning Partners we’ve an opportunity - in this decade - to deliver positive and lasting change.
“I’d like to sincerely thank Ards and North Down Borough Councillors for their interest in our work and I look forward to continuing to engage with them in the year ahead.”
You can download the Ards and North Down HIP Update below.