Antrim and Newtownabbey social housing shortfall raised with Housing Executive

A shortfall of 1,740 Housing Executive properties in Antrim and Newtownabbey was highlighted at a meeting of the borough council on Monday evening.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 4:52 pm
Monkscoole House's demolition has been approved.

Threemilewater DUP Councillor Mark Cooper, the local authority’s representative on the Northern Ireland Housing Council. was commenting on housing stress in the borough following a presentation by the Housing Executive which revealed that almost 1,000 people had been homeless.

Councillors were told that the Housing Executive’s planned expenditure in the borough this financial year will be £20.94m.  Of this, £11m will be spent on planned maintenance improvements, The figure does not include new social housing.

Last year, £29.42m was invested in new-build accommodation in the Antrim and Newtownabbey area where construction of 199 new homes commenced. Overall expenditure on housing services in the borough was £42.44m.

Mossley Mill

Meanwhile, there were 2,187 applicants in “housing stress” at the end of the last financial year with the greatest need for single person accommodation.

Just under half of the 952 people deemed homeless received a property (447). The Housing Executive says that 1,159 new social housing homes are required in the borough during the next five years. Homelessness has increased by 12.7 per cent in the last 12 months.

Chief executive Grainia Long said: “Given the necessity to social distance, this situation placed enormous pressure on temporary accommodation in the borough.”

There are 6,382 Housing Executive properties in the borough and three hostels – in Rathcoole, Ballyduff and Antrim.

Macedon Ulster Unionist Councillor Robert Foster questioned the suitability of the social housing that is under construction asking if it meets the needs of single tenants.

He was advised that the housing body “tries to match need with proposals coming forward” and “endeavours to provide a mix of housing types”.

Cllr Cooper pointed out that if 2,187 people are “in housing stress” and 447 are allocated, then there is a shortfall of 1,740.

Fifteen Housing Executive properties were sold to sitting tenants during the last financial year.

New double glazing was installed in 204 homes, 175 had replacement boilers installed, and 49 had external maintenance.

Director of Housing Services, Colm McQuillan, acknowledged that the Housing Executive does not have sufficient accommodation to meet demand.

Cllr Foster went on to say that despite housing stress, 50 flats are being lost with the proposed demolition of Monkscoole House which has been approved by the Housing Executive’s board and Department for Communities. Click here

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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