Executive to invest over £3m

Housing Executive to invest over £3.0million in Ballymoney Borough this year

It is a story of good and bad news as the Housing Executive commences its annual round of consultations with local councils.

Despite the difficult economic situation, a record 2,418 social housing units were started last year. The commencement of 302 properties in rural areas was the highest rural outturn in over ten years. However, with reducing levels of funding for new housing in the coming years, the target for the year ahead will only be 1,400 starts and the budget for the succeeding two years may see further reductions.

New figures on homelessness show an unwelcome rise of 5.3%, with 10,443 applicants having been accepted as homeless over the past year. Significantly there has also been an increase in those who have lost their rented accommodation.

Referring specifically to the Housing Executive’s investment in Ballymoney Borough in 2010/11, Frank O’Connor, North East Area Manager, said: “Last year the Housing Executive:

Spent £1.1million on improving and maintaining Housing Executive homes in Ballymoney Borough;

* Invested £650,000 to assist vulnerable people through the Supporting People programme.

* Provided £400,000 for grant aid to improve housing conditions in the private sector;

* Invested £207,000 on adapting Housing Executive homes in the District; commenced adaptations to 18 tenants’ homes;

* Provided 1,108 private sector tenants with Housing Benefit assistance, an increase of over almost 60% from 2007;

* Worked with 13 community groups throughout Ballymoney Borough.”

Spelling out the Housing Executive’s agenda in the Borough for the coming year when the investment will be £3.12 million, Frank O’Connor said: “Housing waiting list - The housing waiting list for Ballymoney has decreased in the past two years, from 203 applicants in housing stress in December 2008 to 138 in December 2010. We believe that the growth in private renting in the Borough has been instrumental in creating increased choice for people looking for a home of their own.

“Housing allocations - Last year we allocated 100 Housing Executive homes to waiting list applicants compared to 127 the previous year.

“New social housing - In the past year a scheme for 5 units of supported housing was completed at Garryduff Gardens by Triangle Housing Association. The draft Social Housing Development Programme for 2011-2012 includes a scheme for 6 new general needs homes at Fenton Park Cloughmills. This is also a Triangle Housing Association project. A Prospectus has been published to highlight locations where new social housing is needed but where housing associations have been unable to acquire sites.

“Homelessness - In Ballymoney Borough the number of homeless people increased slightly from 96 in March 2010 to 102 in March 2011. Approximately 45% of those accepted as homeless were single person households. The Housing Executive will continue to work hard to provide services to support those faced with homelessness in Ballymoney Borough. Carnany Hometel provides temporary accommodation and support for homeless applicants. We are also reviewing our temporary accommodation and examining the range of help we provide to vulnerable households.

“Supporting people to live independently - This year we will invest around £690,000 to help the most vulnerable people in Ballymoney Borough to continue to live independently. This is especially important for older people and people with disabilities. Existing funding delivers12 supported housing accommodation based schemes and one floating support scheme in the District.

“Maintaining Housing Executive homes - Despite pressures on our funding the Housing Executive will continue to provide its day-to-day maintenance service. Housing Executive tenants in Ballymoney Borough will see this service protected in line with their conditions of tenancy. This year’s work programme also includes a scheme for new kitchens in 19 properties at Lime Park and Fortview; heating replacement for 66 Carnany homes and planned external maintenance for 386 homes in the rural areas of Dervock, Clintyfinnan and Rasharkin. This latter contract is already underway.

“Warm Homes Scheme - In Ballymoney Borough in the year to March 2011, 113 homes were insulated, 6 had heating installed, and a further 12 had both insulation and heating installed.

“Grants improving private homes - We have allocated £370,000 for home improvement grants for Ballymoney Borough in the coming year and expect to start 13 Disabled Facilities Grants.

“Building stronger communities - Ballymoney Housing Community Network and 13 local community and residents groups, 10 representing rural communities, are doing valuable work reviewing and improving housing services for local people. Members of staff are working diligently with residents and other agencies to promote and encourage safer, settled and inclusive housing areas within Ballymoney Borough.

“Improving public housing services - Our Ballymoney District Office, under the management of Mairead Myles Davey, continues to provide dedicated housing services in our Ballymoney District. Members of staff here are ably assisted by the Customer Services Unit, Accounts and Housing Benefit Units in the North East Area Office in Ballymena.”

Frank O’Connor concluded: “I would like to extend my thanks to the Councillors and Officers of Ballymoney Borough Council for their support over the past year. The District Manager, District Office members of staff and I look forward to continuing to work with the Council on issues of mutual interest in the coming year.”