Residents of a housing estate in the borough have voted overwhelmingly against a proposed stock transfer of homes.
The move by the residents of the Grange estate in Ballyclare has been welcomed by Paddy Mackel, NIPSA official with responsibility for housing issues.
Commenting on the matter, Paddy said: “NIPSA has fought for the last number of years against this stock transfer agenda.
“We have lobbied politicians, community leaders and most importantly engaged directly with local residents in their own community.
“We have presented detailed evidence to challenge the political agenda of privatisation of the Housing Executive and its homes. We have argued that another way is possible.”
Mr Mackel continued: “The result of the ballot of residents in the Grange estate, who voted by over 90 per cent to reject the relentless charm offensive, is emphatic.
“Efforts to convince residents to vote to transfer their homes to a housing association rather than remain with the Housing Executive have been utterly rejected and this result is a powerful message from citizens that they aren’t easily fooled by empty promises, or scare tactics.
“This result is also about much more than the courageous decision by local residents in Ballyclare. It is a direct challenge to government to halt years of neglect by the state.
“It is a call by citizens to properly fund the Housing Executive and allow it to borrow to enable it to carry out its own repairs and upgrades. More importantly however the right to borrow would enable the Housing Executive to commence a comprehensive programme of new builds, which would immediately create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of apprenticeships for young people.”
He went on to say: “The ‘right to borrow’ issue is now front and centre in this housing debate. The focus on dismantling the Housing Executive and selling off Housing Executive homes to the highest bidder is now a busted flush.
“It is now time for a proper debate about how to enable the Housing Executive to access funding so it can undertake a programme of repairs and contribute to a much needed programme of new builds; 40,000 people on housing waiting lists, including 13,000 officially recorded as homeless deserve better from Government.”
Mr Mackel added: “The residents of the Grange have voted for a change of direction. They have led the way. The Department now needs to change its direction and work with the rest of us to make housing a priority in the years ahead for all citizens.
“This is a great result for residents in the Grange estate. It is also a great result for democracy and people power. The people have spoken. The Department needs to listen.”