The Housing Executive continued its annual round of district council meetings at Ballymoney Borough Council last week.
This is the final year in which the Housing Executive will meet the 26 councils, as they currently exist, following their establishment in 1973.
During the annual presentation of the District Housing Plan to Ballymoney Borough Council, Trevor McCartney, Housing Executive Director of Corporate Services, explained in a report: “The Housing Executive has always prided itself in having a close working relationship with local councils and it is important this continues with the new and much enlarged new councils. The coming year is a period of transition for the new councils and in many ways that can also be said for the Housing Executive. “
Referring specifically to the Housing Executive’s investment in Ballymoney Borough Council area, Frank O’ Connor, North Regional Manager said: “The Housing Executive has enjoyed an excellent relationship with Ballymoney Borough council, both councillors and officers, working in partnership to deliver services to the people of the borough.
“We have strong agenda for Ballymoney. During 2014/15, we will support the delivery of new social housing as well as investing £3.24 million upgrading and maintaining tenants’ homes, supporting people to live independently, increasing the energy efficiency of homes and providing grant aid in the private sector.”
Addressing the issue of Landlord Services, Mr O’Connor continued: “Maintaining our stock is a priority for the Housing Executive and this year we will be spending £1.79 million on planned and response maintenance to Housing Executive homes. This will include the installation of double glazing in 69 homes, new heating in 199 homes, smoke alarms in 417 homes.
“We will also support those tenants who need help to live independently in their homes through the provision of adaptations. Last year we spent £102,400 on both major and minor works helping people live more comfortably in their homes.
“As part of the Housing Executive’s Community Involvement Strategy a Tenant Scrutiny Panel for the Causeway area was established. This panel scrutinises the services they feel are most important to tenants in the local area and has undertaken some valuable work reviewing and improving housing services for local people. The Housing Executive’s BRIC Programme and Shared Communities Programme remained important contributors to the local community.”
Turning to Regional Services, Frank O’Connor stated: “Through our Regional Services we will help meet social housing need through support to the social development programme. During 2014/15, in partnership with the housing associations, 12 new units of accommodation are planned to start on site.
“We support the most vulnerable through the Supporting People Programme with just under £0.66 million for housing support services for 2014/15. We currently fund 14 sheltered and supported housing schemes in Ballymoney Borough.
“In addition we will provide assistance to help adapt homes in the private sector through Disabled Facilities Grants.
“Last year we completed 24 Disabled Facilities Grants and approved 19 with an investment of £227,000. We will also support improvement and repairs in the private sector through the provision
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of £200,000 in grant aid and energy efficiency initiatives in the private sector through the new Affordable Warmth Scheme and the Boiler Replacement Scheme.”
Mr O’Connor concluded: “Our local staff continue to provide a dedicated housing service to the Ballymoney Borough Council Area. They work alongside our Customer Services Unit, Accounts and Housing Benefit teams to provide our tenants and the wider community with an effective and efficient service.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the councillors and officers of Ballymoney Borough Council for their support to the Housing Executive over the past year. We look forward to continuing to work with the new shadow council on issues of mutual interest in the coming year.”
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr John Finlay said that Ballymoney ‘needed more new builds’. He explained: “Some people have to resort to private sector rental which is more expensive and leads to financial hardship for them. This is a regular issue raised at the DUP constituency office.”
The NIHE agreed to look at suitable infill sites close to town centre and encourage housing associations to look at providing housing.
Additional Information in Ballymoney Borough Council
•The housing waiting list has increased from 190 applicants in housing stress at 31 March 2013 to 192 at 31 March 2014. Single households dominate the waiting list followed by small families and older persons.
•The number of homeless applicants awarded full duty status decreased from 117 in 2012/13 to 97 in 2013/14.
•104 Housing Executive homes were allocated to waiting list applicants.
•Carried out planned maintenance including double glazing to 194 homes, new heating systems for 6 homes and outside improvements for 175 homes and frost stats in 196 homes
•Funded 14 supported housing accommodation based schemes.
•Through Warm Homes 185 private sector homes were insulated, 3 had heating installed, a further 7 had both insulation and heating installed.
•Through DSD’s Boiler replacement scheme, part financed by the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, 110 new boilers have been replaced in owner occupied homes.