A report presented to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Neighbourhoods and Communities Committee, showed that there were almost 3,000 applicants on the housing waiting list in the borough, of whom, 2,076 were “in housing stress”.
The Housing Investment Plan 2023-26 revealed that 1,296 households in Mid and East Antrim were homeless at the end of March. There were 1,319 at the end of March 2022.
During 2022/23, the Housing Executive made 686 accommodation placements, which included 49 in Housing Executive hostels, 108 into voluntary sector hostels, 236 to hotels/bed and breakfast, 102 to leased properties and 185 in single-let properties.
The report indicated that 15 per cent of people were homeless due to domestic violence; 34 per cent, unreasonable accommodation; 13 per cent, loss of private rented accommodation; 17 per cent, sharing breakdown/family dispute; eight per cent neighbourhood harassment; six per cent, relationship breakdown; three per cent, no accommodation in Northern Ireland and four per cent, other.
The report notes that 154 new-builds are planned. During 2022/23, 60 social housing homes were completed across the council area and 473 units were under construction at end of March.
Of those on the waiting list, 1,202 are single people; 146, small adults (couples); 723, small families; 93, large adults (three or more persons aged 16 upwards), 186 large families and 609 older persons. Single people are the most affected by housing stress.
Housing allocations went to 223 single people, 19 couple, 78 small families, less than 10 “large adults”, 28 large families and 111 older people.
The Housing Executive has predicted that 856 new social housing properties will be needed in Mid and East Antrim by 2027.
Of these, the organisation says that 371 are required in Ballymena; 152 in Carrickfergus town; 75 in Larne town; 42 in Whitehead; 38 in Greenisland; 18 in Carnlough and four in Glenarm.
The report also notes a need for more accessible housing and at least 47 wheelchair accessible properties.
During the last financial year, the Housing Executive spent £0.83m on adaptations to their properties in Mid and East Antrim and approved 56 disabled facilities grants worth £584k for private sector dwellings and completed 45.
The Housing Executive, through the Supporting People Grant, funds 69 Housing Support Services across Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area at a cost of £4.2m, providing housing support to 1,385 clients per year.
In Mid and East Antrim, 474 improvements were carried out to 280 private properties under the Affordable Warmth Scheme in 2022/23, at a cost of £1.37m. Boilers were replaced in 79 properties at a cost of £48k.
In 2022/23, there were 56 properties purchased through Co-Ownership in the council area, out of a total 715 across Northern Ireland.
Presenting the Housing Executive’s Housing Investment Plan 2023-26, chief executive Grainia Long said: “Last year, £32.29m was invested in new-build homes in the district, with 473 housing association units on-site at March 2023, and 60 housing completions for the year. ”
“Despite this investment, the gap between housing demand and supply continues to widen and we recognise the importance of continued partnership with councils and the housing sector to find solutions.
“We will continue to work with our partners to increase social housing supply, help to address the impact of climate change, invest in our local economy, deliver innovative housing solutions and involve our customers to ensure they are at the heart of service improvements in our business delivery model.
The chief executive also reported: “We have invested more in our tenants’ homes across Northern Ireland over the past 12 months (2022/23) than in any of the previous 15 years.
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“In Mid and East Antrim, we invested £5.55m on planned maintenance including stock improvements last year, with a further £5.03m spent on response maintenance.
“Across the district, 853 people who presented as homeless were accepted for support last year. Our focus on prevention and early intervention will continue with the aim of providing a sustainable model of provision to prevent homelessness.”