Major new project to model the future of social housing in Northern Ireland

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Will Haire CB, chair of the Rethinking social housing Northern Ireland steering group and Nicola McCrudden CIHCM, CIH director for Northern Ireland

A major new project has been launched by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Northern Ireland to help shape the future of social housing.

Rethinking social housing Northern Ireland, launched today, will engage with tenants, the general public, the Housing Executive, housing associations and politicians to explore the big questions around social housing. It will combine people’s views with original research to consider the future role and purpose of social housing.

Sponsored by the Department for Communities (DfC), Rethinking social housing Northern Ireland compliments a project CIH launched in England.

The Northern Ireland project aims to:

  • Stimulate a wide-ranging debate about the future of social housing
  • Understand and challenge perceptions of social housing
  • Influence and shape the direction of future housing policy.

Nicola McCrudden, CIH director for Northern Ireland said: “Social housing plays a vital function by providing low cost rented homes for low income families on a secure basis. Broadly speaking, the way we approach social housing in Northern Ireland has not changed much over the last couple of decades.

“In Britain welfare reform and government funding pressures have had profound impacts on social housing, particularly in England. The tragedy at Grenfell Tower has placed social housing firmly in the public consciousness and has led to wide-spread debate on its role and purpose in today’s society.”

The sponsors of the project are Choice Housing, Clanmil Housing, Radius Housing and Triangle Housing, who together with DfC will form part of the project’s steering and advisory group with representatives from across the housing and homelessness sectors. This group will be independently chaired by Will Haire CB.

Mr Haire is currently chair of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. For 35 years he worked in the Northern Ireland Civil Service and for government in Brussels, and he is a former permanent secretary developing and delivering a wide range of social policies.

Mr Haire said: “Social housing is core to enabling people to live decent lives. Better understanding its nature and role is an important debate we need to have here.

“This project is an opportunity for people with an interest in social housing to have their say. We want as many individuals and organisations as possible to take part. Giving a voice to tenants and the public will be central.

“I am delighted that CIH is taking the lead on this challenge, and that we will be listening to as many voices as possible.”

The results of the project are set to be published with a report in July, which will include recommendations to the social housing sector and the government.

The steering group for the project also includes:

  • Council for the Homeless
  • Department for Infrastructure
  • Department of Health
  • Equality Commission
  • Housing Rights
  • Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action
  • Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations
  • Northern Ireland Housing Executive
  • Paddy Gray, professor emeritus of housing at Ulster University
  • Strategic Investment Board
  • Supporting Communities.
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