The Department for Communities has today launched a fundamental review of social housing allocations for consultation. Nicola McCrudden, director for the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Northern Ireland, has welcomed the move which she describes as “a long-overdue, but positive development which provides an opportunity to transform the way we allocate social housing”.
“The current selection scheme for social housing has been in place since 2000 and we have moved on significantly from then. With an overall lack of housing supply, waiting lists continue to rise with some families waiting many years for a home. While no allocations system is perfect, we believe that the current way we allocate homes isn’t working for many people.”
In particular Ms McCrudden welcomes the ending of ‘intimidation points’, which she describes as “problematic”.
She said: “People in domestic violence circumstances for example are not eligible for the additional 200 points for intimidation, which only apply in particular circumstances. It accelerates applicants to the top of the waiting list. Removing intimidation points will help to ensure that people with similar housing needs are treated more equally.”
With 3,400 applicants who are homeless on the waiting list for over five years, CIH supports proposals to give more recognition to time spent on the waiting list. CIH also supports providing an independent advice service providing a range of housing options.
Commenting on the proposal to use private rented homes for people who are homeless, Ms McCrudden said “Social housing provides security of tenure for families, at affordable rents and is managed by housing professionals. While the majority of private rented accommodation is good quality and provides a viable housing solution, we need to make sure there is adequate support for people who are vulnerable so that they don’t end up facing homelessness again.
“Widening out areas of choice for people is fundamental to making this new allocations scheme work. This should maximise the opportunities for more suitable offers to become available. However, fundamentally unless we increase the supply of social and affordable housing, options will continue to be limited.”
The consultation is available on the Department for Communities website and runs until December 21.