Northern Irelands social housing model shows that effective policy design and implementation can deliver sustainable communities, quality homes and safe neighbourhoods - that was the message today as MichÃ©al Martin TD, Fianna FÃ¡il leader, paid a visit to Clifton House. He met with representatives of the social housing sector including Michael McDonnell, Helm Housing Association along with Cameron Watt and Jennie Donald from the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA).
The meeting took place during a visit by Mr Martin to Belfast. He was briefed on the history of social housing in Northern Ireland, current structures and governance, methods of public and private sector funding which support construction and maintenance and the various partnership models which operate between housing associations and care providers.
Speaking after the meeting, Fianna FÃ¡il Leader MicheÃ¡l Martin TD commented, "In the Republic of Ireland we are dealing with a major emerging housing crisis and my party is keen to learn from best practice in developing a sustainable response to that crisis. The success of the voluntary Housing Association sector in Northern Ireland is something we are keen to learn more about. The briefing from Helm and NIFHA, looking at the role Housing Associations can play in developing communities and how to make the most of public investment in social housing, was very useful and will feed into our policy development in this area."
Michael McDonnell, CEO Helm Housing Association said: Housing associations have played an active role in providing social housing in Northern Ireland since the early 1970s and today operate as social economy enterprises which invest all profit back into the company. Since then, the model has evolved to include partnerships which sees us work directly with care providers ensuring that vulnerable people and those with specific needs are housed with dignity and respect.
Cameron Watt, CEO NIFHA added: We are delighted to have met MicheÃ¡l Martin and his Fianna FÃ¡il colleagues. Ensuring sufficient affordable housing is a major challenge both North and South of the border. We welcomed the opportunity to discuss the experience of Northern Irish housing associations in providing housing, care and support for people in need, including through securing a significant amount of low cost private finance. We look forward to further strengthening our cross border learning on affordable housing in future.
The meeting concluded with a tour of Clifton House which is one of the citys oldest buildings which historically functioned as the citys Poor House.