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Rural Homes Week 2022

Providing good quality affordable and social homes is not limited to urban areas. As we show our support for Rural Housing Week, NIFHA wants to shine a light on the vital role social housing has in enhancing the sustainability and diversity of rural communities.

Many of our members are committed to contributing to housing provision not just in our larger towns and cities, where housing need is generally assumed, but in rural parts of Northern Ireland. Housing associations are not just building homes, they are helping to create and sustain vibrant, cohesive communities and welcoming neighbourhoods. Often overlooked, rural housing need is something housing associations work hard to address, to allow people to live in their local area, to maintain family networks and a sense of community which in turn allows rural towns and villages to thrive. I recently had the privilege of visiting Rathlin Island to join the sod cutting for the first new social homes to be built on the island for almost a decade.

Rural Housing Association Sod Cutting, Rathlin Island

The 10 new sustainable and energy efficient social homes being built by Rural Housing Association are testament to the hard work of the association to meet a very real need for new homes and will help meet the demand for housing on the island as the population of 150 continues to grow and allow more people and families to settle on this unique island.

Seeing that development from inception to build was no easy task and housing associations face many challenges in delivering rural homes. but we are constantly finding new ways to overcome obstacles, including environmental impact, design, access, infrastructure connections and affordability, to ensure those who wish to live and work in rural areas can do so. The Covid pandemic turned the way we work on its head, with many of us working from home to stay safe. Even now, as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic and businesses move to hybrid-working, there are still opportunities to rethink how and were we work. No longer is it necessary to move to larger urban areas for an office job, when home-working options are now more commonplace. This could have a positive impact on maintaining rural communities and infrastructure and housing associations will remain front and centre, delivering on rural housing need though new social homes and affordable housing options.

We hope you will follow the case studies and experiences of residents and communities on the NIFHA twitter account this week as we celebrate the work of housing associations who are doing fantastic work in rural communities, alongside our friends and colleagues at Rural Community Network and the Housing Executive. Search using #RuralHomesWeek