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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Housing Executive dealing with “increasing levels of vulnerability and complexity”

The Housing Executive has acknowledged that waiting lists for social housing and homelessness have “risen significantly in recent years and show little sign of falling”.

Speaking at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Direct Services Committee, on Tuesday evening (11 October), Grainia Long, the Housing Executive’s chief executive, told councillors that “despite sustained levels of investment in new social housing across Northern Ireland, the gap between housing demand and supply continues to widen”.

The Housing Executive is to spend almost £25m on improving housing in the borough during 2022/23. This is to include the sum of £9.65m for planned maintenance and stock improvements; £6.42m on response maintenance and £1.14m on grounds maintenance.

Mid and East Antrim’s housing waiting list had 1,955 applicants in “housing stress” at the end of the financial year.  Single, older persons and small family households comprise 87% of those in housing stress in the borough. There are 2,809 applicants on the waiting list.

The Housing Executive reported that 1,319 people presented as homeless during 2021/22 with 501 homes allocated to waiting list applicants.

The sum of £45.8m was invested in new-build accommodation in Mid and East Antrim with 277 new-builds commencing and 371 units on-site in March with 59 new properties completed.  A total of 276 are scheduled during the next three years.

In addition, the Housing Executive invested £3.82m to fund 65 housing support services across Mid and East Antrim to 1,369 clients in 2021/22. A total of 895 people who presented as homeless were accepted for support.

The sum of £5.48m was spent on planned maintenance in the borough involving the installation of new heating in 251 homes, bathrooms and kitchens and rewiring in 69 homes and 266 homes received external maintenance. Boilers were replaced in 161 properties with a further £5.58m spent on “response maintenance”.

Twenty-three properties were sold to sitting tenants during the last financial year.

Of the 59,200 households in Mid and East Antrim, 73 per cent are privately owned, 13 per cent are privately rented and 14 per cent are socially rented. The average house price is £163,185. There were 68 Co-Ownership purchases in 2020/21. There were 6,037 properties registered to 3,329 landlords in March 2022.

The chief executive commented: “We are starting to see an increase regionally in landlords leaving the private rental sector. We are very concerned about the impact on this sector and the impact on homelessness. We are dealing with increasing levels of vulnerability and complexity.”

There were 1,881 Housing Executive tenants receiving the Housing Cost element of Universal Credit in Mid and East Antrim at the end of March.

The Housing Executive has estimated a requirement for 984 social new-build homes in Mid and East Antrim between 2021 and 2026.  Of these, the organisation says that 340 are needed in Carrickfergus; Ballymena, 313; Larne, 74; Whitehead, 33; Greenisland, 33 and Carnlough, 15.

In Carrickfergus, social housing schemes are scheduled for McKeen’s Avenue, three new homes by Habinteg in 2022/23;  16 new homes are planned by Choice at North Street in 2023/24; 15 new homes at Governors Place, by Clanmill, 2023/24 and 20 new homes at Northland Road by Alpha in 2024/25.

In Larne, 24 are planned at the former Gardenmore House site scheduled by Radius in 2022/23.

In Ballymena, new social housing is scheduled for developments at the former St Patrick’s Barracks site, 116; Clonavon Road, Ballymena, 26; Main Street, Cullybackey, 21; Main Street, Broughshane, 20 and Wellington Street, Ballymena, 15.


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