All Party Group puts Affordable Housing on the agenda

25 June 2015

 How government, housing associations and the private sector can widen access to affordable housing was top of the agenda today at the third meeting of the NI Assembly All Party Group on Housing. 

The Group heard from leading members of the housing sector and led a discussion on how access to affordable housing can be widened in Northern Ireland. At the moment the vast majority of housing is provided either by the private sector or social housing providers. Improving the volume of affordable housing is seen as a key way to improve access to those who cannot access social housing but may not financially afford private sector housing. 
Siobhan McCauley, Director of Regional Services, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, addressed the meeting on the Northern Ireland Executive's policy on affordable housing and how it is implemented. Jennie Donald, Deputy Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations, focused on the practical out-workings of affordable housing policy, as well as looking at the benefits that could be gained from diversification of affordable housing programmes.
Speaking after the meeting Sammy Douglas MLA, who chaired the meeting said: â??Discussions on housing in Northern Ireland usually focus on the availability of social housing or rising house prices. It is important that access to affordable housing is increased so that those who cannot get on the property ladder and cannot access social housing have somewhere to live. 
â??While there have been some effort to stimulate this area, through co-ownership, it has been limited in its scope and resource. First time buyers are struggling to get on the property ladder because of how the market is balanced. Increasing affordable housing schemes can help this,â? he added. 
Michael McDonnell, Chief Executive, Helm Housing, who provide secretariat for the NI Assembly All Party Group on Housing said: â??The NI Assembly All Party Group on Housing plays an important role in discussing and examining issues which fall between the public sector and private sectors and can sometimes be ignored. The stability of the whole housing market will be strengthened by a strong balance of housing provision which meet the needs of the entire population. The discussion today will hopefully stimulate action across government to work with the sector to improve our affordable housing offering.â?Â 
The NI Assembly All Party Group on Housing was set up with the aim of focusing on specific areas of housing. The first topic they discussed was the role of housing in community planning on the new councils, and they plan to look at other issues relating to health and housing in the future. 

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