By VIEW editor Brian Pelan
A housing director has said that there is an urgent need for more new homes to be built in Northern Ireland.
Nicola McCrudden, Chartered Institute of Housing Director for NI, said: “Our population is increasing which is in part due to people living longer. Simultaneously, the number of households in housing stress is growing. For the past few years it remained around 22,000 but recently it has reached almost 24,000 (2016-17). As a result there is increased demand for housing in an already pressurised market.
“Whilst we are meeting targets for social housing, there is recognition that we need to build more homes – not only to meet demand but to address the backlog created during the post housing crash years 2008-2014.
“The reality is that we are not building enough housing. We should be aiming for around 9,000 new homes every year. The Department of Communities housing bulletin shows that 7,515 homes were started in 2017-18, of which 90 per cent were private.
Her call came as data from the BBC Local News Partnership revealed that a decade after the recession, less than one in five areas of England are building enough homes every year at a pace to meet the Government’s medium to long term housing need estimates, and the majority of areas have still not got back to supplying new homes at the same rates they were before the economic crash.
Across Scotland and Wales too, supply of new homes has failed consistently to keep up with long term projected demand, with similar regional variations in delivery rates.
Ms McCrudden said: “The draft Programme for Government recognises there is a gap between the numbers of houses we have and the number we need. While it doesn’t specify an overall target for house building, it commits to 9,600 social homes over five years (1,920 per annum). However, this has now been reduced to 7,600 (1,520 per annum) in the delivery plan.
The lower target may be more realistic but falls short of the number of homes required. The Housing Executive recommends that 2,000 social homes are needed to deal with backlog issues.
“The lack of an Assembly isn’t helping the situation. We need local MLAs to make the case for more social housing and to ensure that the required funding and support is in place to make this happen. The lack of housing policy development in a time of austerity is extremely worrying and will cause further hardship unless it is addressed urgently.”