Experts call for more affordable homes in Northern Ireland
Leading Northern Ireland housing figures have said that determined work is needed to ensure more Northern Ireland homes are genuinely affordable.
Speaking ahead of today’s Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Housing Rights affordable homes conference, CIH national director Justin Cartwright said plans to build ‘affordable housing’ in new developments must ensure these homes are genuinely affordable.
Justin said: “Councils are working on new planning requirements that mean social and affordable housing will be built alongside private housing in new, larger developments.
“This approach is taken in Britain and Ireland and it is successful – it means more affordable housing is provided for people who need it. It offers a sustainable way to provide different types of housing that meets people’s diverse needs.
“Affordability is a central concern when we talk about housing. But affordability often isn’t defined and depends on several factors. When we talk about ‘affordable housing’ for planning purposes, we must ensure that it is a genuinely affordable option for people.”
Housing Rights policy and practice manager Kate McCauley said affordability concerns of those on low incomes should be a top concern for policy makers.
Kate said: “As a housing advice charity we see the difficulties faced by people on low incomes and the impact this has on their ability to find and keep their homes every day. It is critical that government proposals developed in relation to affordable housing robustly evidence precisely how they will address these difficulties.
“Housing Rights is particularly concerned about low income renters, especially those who rent from private landlords and those experiencing difficulties paying their mortgage. Important work is being done by the Affordable Housing Commission in England to propose workable solutions to provide affordable homes and we encourage local policy makers to learn from this work.”
The conference, taking place in Belfast, is sponsored by Co-Ownership.
Mark Graham, chief executive at Co-Ownership said: “CIH NI and Housing Rights’ affordable homes conference is the time to ensure Northern Ireland’s affordable housing opportunities, and challenges, are firmly at the top of the agenda. We’ll see best practice input and knowledge sharing from a range of experts and practitioners who will consider affordability issues in the local housing market, and how these affect low income households here. We’ll also hear developments in other jurisdictions including the use of mid-market rent. A wide range of professionals from across the industry will all hugely benefit from accessing new information and hearing a varied range of views.”