Changes to the way in which the Northern Ireland Housing Executive is funded and the role it can play in the provision and development of public housing here, has been welcomed by the Workers Party as ” long overdue”.
Party spokesperson Joanne Lowry said, “If we are to have an effective and dynamic strategy which addresses the chronic shortage of public housing, then the Northern Ireland Housing Executive must be at its centre and assume its rightful role as lead agency,”
“This announcement is a welcome start but much remains to be done, and significant funding needs to be secured to deliver high quality public housing across Northern Ireland”, she said.
However, the Party’s welcome comes with a warning. “We must of course wait to see the detail of these announcements”, Joanne said, ” and one of the aspects which we will be scrutinising will be the Housing Executive’s regional role. The establishment of the NIHE was one of the many gains of the civil rights movement in the early 1970s. It must remain as the lead housing agency in Northern Ireland and not be diluted into another housing association”.
The proposed changes include allowing the NI Housing Executive to build again, retain and maintain existing stock – a demand the Workers Party has been making for more than twenty years. There are also proposed changes to the private rented sector affording tenants more security of tenure and an undertaking to review to ‘right to buy’ policy introduced during the Thatcher era which severely depleted the available public housing stock.