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Strategic action needed now to halt housing crisis says Housing Association representative body.

Providing major investment and delivering policy changes for housing associations is the quickest way to deliver more high quality social housing and without these changes and reforms, the housing crisis will only deepen in the coming years - that was the message today as the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) launched their new three year Strategic Plan.

The plan, which sets out the key policy objectives of the social housing sector, was launched at an event in Parliament Buildings, which included addresses by the Minister for Communities, Gordon Lyons MLA, and the event sponsor, Vice Chair of the Communities Committee, Ciara Ferguson MLA.

Housing Associations in Northern Ireland manage more than 60,000 homes and invest more than £350m annually to build 1500 new housing units each year, as well as investing millions of pounds in housing stock and providing a range of other support services to tenants and communities. The sector employs more than 3,000 people, and contributes more than £85m per year in salaries and wages. As the representative body for the Northern Ireland’s 20 registered Housing Associations, NIFHA has developed the Strategic Plan with the goal of ensuring that government policy and budgetary investment can prioritise the development of warm, sustainable homes and support positive community development.

Some of the areas highlighted by the Strategic Plan include the need for a long-term plan to supply new and improved housing stock through multi-year investment in the capital budget, reform of the planning process and investment in infrastructure and retrofitting which includes making current and future homes climate-friendly & climate-ready. The plan also addresses how tenants and communities can be supported through programmes such as Supporting People and similar initiatives.

Speaking at the launch, Communities Minister Gordon Lyons said: “We have many challenges to deliver the housing we need.  To address these will require both sustained investment and a collective effort from stakeholders and government at all levels. I am in the process of finalising a housing supply strategy that will aim to provide a long-term framework within which we can start to identify the actions needed to address these issues.

“The NIFHA Strategy launching today aligns and supports a number of my priorities. The ambition to ensure that everyone has access to good quality, affordable and sustainable homes is one which we both share and I look forward to continue working with you to deliver the homes we need.”

Speaking at the launch, NIFHA Chief Executive, Seamus Leheny, said “Too often the issues faced in providing adequate housing are acknowledged, but the actions and investment are not prioritised in the way they should be. We all know the challenges faced in public finances, but investing in housing is investing in positive futures for families and citizens right across Northern Ireland and makes a significant contribution to health, education, economic growth and job creation.

“Providing warm, safe homes in strong communities should be the foundation for a thriving society. In the coming months and year, NIFHA will be working with the Communities Minister, the Communities Committee, MLAs and Government officials to ensure that we are all focused on providing the solutions for housing. If we don’t see steps taken to address the need for investment and policy reform in housing, we are in danger of allowing the housing crisis to deepen. It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

Ciara Ferguson MLA, who hosted the event, said “Access to a safe and secure place to call home is a fundamental human right, inextricably linked to other outcomes including health and wellbeing, education and employment opportunities and access to support systems. We need to see cross-departmental commitment to the area of housing supply across our rural, urban and coastal communities, with a focus on protecting our social housing stock and delivering affordable, warm, good quality and climate-resilient housing at scale. The focus must recognise both the importance of housing first, strengthened by wraparound and support service and the provision of accessible housing solutions for a wider diversity of needs. I welcome today’s publication of NIFHA’s Strategic Plan for the next three years, which will run until NIFHA’s 50th Birthday and I look forward to working closely with them through the Committee for Communities alongside the All-Party Groups on Housing and Homelessness.”

The NIFHA Strategic Plan 2024-2027 can be viewed at – NIFHA Strategic Plan 2024-27

 

ENDS

Further information:

Brendan Scott

MW Advocate

brendan.scott@mwadvocate.com

07834422923