Wednesday, 27 September 2017

THE Housing Executive has slashed the amount it will spend on social housing throughout Mid-Ulster over the next year by more than 3 million!

Detailing its plans to councillors at a special meeting in Dungannon, Thursday night last, officials from the Housing Executive revealed plans to spend 11.69 million upgrading and maintaining its properties during 2017/18.

However, this figure is 3.1 million LESS than the 14.79 million the Housing Executive spent throughout Mid-Ulster over the past year.

Addressing councillors at the meeting, the Housing Executive's Siobhan McCauley said the plan had been prepared to inform the community planning partnership on the state of the housing market, on housing needs, the policy priorities and public sector investment proposals for 2015-19.

Details of the allocated expenditure shows that 5.42 million will be spent on planned and response maintenance in neighbourhoods including outside maintenance works to 376 homes, the installation of double glazing in 230 homes, 79 kitchen replacements and 70 heating installations. 3.71 million will also be invested in housing support services with the Housing Executive funding 37 accommodation based services in the Mid-Ulster area as well as five floating support services.

Across Mid-Ulster the housing waiting list stood at 1,008 applicants as of 31st March 2017.

Single households dominate the waiting list followed by small families and older people.

A total of 466 people were awarded homeless full duty status during 2016/17 while 366 homes were allocated to waiting list applicant last year.

Despite over 1,000 applications already on the waiting list the Housing Executive plans to build only 219 new homes over the next three years.

Speaking following the presentation the Chair of Mid-Ulster District Council, Councillor Kim Ashton said: "There is no doubt that the NIHE faces budgetary pressure, like so many organisations, including the Council and that means that addressing existing housing and associated need, as well as anticipating and meeting future needs, will continue to be a challenge.

Sinn Fein's Dominic Molloy described the social housing situation as a "massive challenge".

"Given the budgetary constraints NIHE are facing, the issues created by welfare reform and the changing demographics of society, there is a massive challenge facing us in the years ahead," he said.

"Myself and party colleagues have great respect for the work and engagement of the staff in the Dungannon offices and we look forward to working with them closely in the future to alleviate the real pain and suffering that is caused by housing stress.

"It was forewarned that selling off stock without reinvestment would lead to problems, and these are the very problems we are now facing."


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