THE Housing Executive is to invest over £1 million in Moyle 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 across Northern Ireland.
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 Moyle in 2010/11, Frank O’Connor, North East Area Manager, said: “Last year the Housing Executive:
* Spent £350,000 on improving and maintaining Housing Executive homes in Moyle District;
* Invested £290,000 to assist vulnerable people through the Supporting People programme;
* Provided £250,000 for grant aid to improve housing conditions in the private sector;
* Invested £30,000 on adapting Housing Executive homes in the District; commenced adaptations to 12 tenants’ homes;
* Provided 713 private sector tenants with Housing Benefit assistance, an increase of over 30% from 2007;
* Worked with six community groups throughout Moyle District.”
Spelling out the Housing Executive’s agenda in Moyle for the coming year when the investment will be £1.05 million, Frank O’Connor, said: “Housing waiting list - The housing waiting list for Moyle has decreased in the past two years, from 181 applicants in housing stress in December 2008 to 165 in December 2010. We believe that the growth in private renting in Moyle District has been instrumental in creating increased choice for people looking for a home of their own.
“Housing allocations - Last year we allocated 75 Housing Executive homes to waiting list applicants. This is an increase of over 33% since 2008.
“New social housing - Seven new homes are programmed for Ballycastle in this year’s draft Social Housing Development Programme. 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 Moyle District the number of homeless people increased from 82 in March 2010 to 100 in March 2011. Approximately 32% of those accepted as homeless were single person households. The Housing Executive will continue to work hard to provide services to support to those faced with homelessness in Moyle District. We are also reviewing our temporary accommodation and examine the range of help we provide to vulnerable households.
“Supporting people to live independently - This year we will invest around £290,000 to help the most vulnerable people in Moyle to continue to live independently. This is especially important for older people and people with disabilities. There are currently eight 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 Moyle District will see this service protected in line with their conditions of tenancy.”
“Warm Homes Scheme - In Moyle District in the year to March 2011 103 homes were insulated, four had heating installed, and a further 11 had both insulation and heating installed.
“Grants improving private homes - We have allocated £230,000 for home improvement grants for Moyle District in the coming year. We expect to start ten Disabled Facilities Grants, four Renovation Grants, these within the Town Centre Living Initiative Areas of Bushmills and Ballycastle, and 1 Home Repair Assistance Grant during 2011-2012.
“Building stronger communities - Moyle Housing Community Network and the six local community and residents groups 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 Moyle District.
“Improving public housing services - Our Ballycastle District Office, under Gerry McCloskey’s management, continues to provide dedicated housing services in Moyle 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 Moyle District 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.”