£3.39 million to be invested by Housing Executive

OVER £3million will be invested in the district’s homes this year by the Housing Executive.

The Housing Executive’s South Area Manager, Lorraine Campbell, has told of how the organisation’s money was spent over the last 12 months as well as outlining the plan for the next year.

She said, “Last year the Housing Executive spent over £2.2 million on improving and maintaining Housing Executive homes in the Banbridge District; invested £930k to assist vulnerable people through the Supporting People programme; provided £0.53 million for grant aid to improve housing conditions in the private sector; invested £114k on adapting Housing Executive homes in the District having commenced adaptations to 40 tenants’ homes; provided 1747 private sector tenants with Housing Benefit assistance, an increase of 53% from 2008 and worked with community groups and other sectors to encourage safer, settled and inclusive communities in the Banbridge District.”

Setting out the Housing Executive’s agenda in the Banbridge District for the 2012/2013 year when the investment will be £3.39 million, she said:

“The housing waiting list for Banbridge District has decreased, from 292 applicants in housing stress in December 2010 to 234 in April 2012. Single person households continue to dominate the waiting list.

“During 2011/2012 we allocated 186 Housing Executive homes to waiting list applicants compared to 206 allocations in the 12 months to December 2010.

“In the past year a total of 49 new homes were completed in 4 schemes in Banbridge town, Dromore, Kinallen and Loughbrickland.

At the end of March 2012, there were two homes on site in Glen View Rathfriland. The draft Social Housing Development Programme for 2012-2015 proposes one scheme for 18 units of general needs housing in Banbridge and two schemes for 30 units for the elderly in Banbridge and Dromore.

“In Banbridge District the number of people accepted as homeless decreased from 145 in 2010/ 2011 to 120 in 2011/2012.

The Housing Executive will continue to work hard to provide services to support those faced with homelessness in the District. The new Homelessness Strategy 2012-2017 will aim to eliminate long term homelessness and rough sleeping across Northern Ireland by 2020.

“This year the Housing Executive will invest £0.93m to help the most vulnerable people in Banbridge District to continue to live independently. This is especially important for older people and people with disabilities. Existing funding delivers 16 supported housing accommodation based schemes and 1 floating support scheme in the District.

“Despite pressures on our funding the Housing Executive will continue to provide its day-to-day maintenance service. Housing Executive tenants in Banbridge District will see this service protected in line with their conditions of tenancy. This year’s work programme, includes External Maintenance to 113 homes and the installation of fire doors to 137 properties.

“In Banbridge District in the year to March 2012, 253 private sector homes were insulated, 3 had heating installed, and a further 14 had both insulation and heating installed through the Warm Homes Scheme.

“We have allocated £317k for private sector grants for the Banbridge District this year.

“The Housing Community Network, local community and residents groups are doing valuable work reviewing and improving housing services for local people. Members of staff are working diligently with residents and other agencies to promote and encourage safer, settled and inclusive housing areas within Banbridge District. The BRIC Programme and Shared Communities Programme will be important drivers for this work.

“Our Banbridge District Office, under the management of Comghal McQuillan, continues to provide dedicated housing services to the Banbridge District. District Office staff are ably assisted by the Customer Services Unit, Accounts and Housing Benefit Units.”

Ms Campbell concluded, “I would like to extend my thanks to the Councillors and Officers of Banbridge District Council for their support over the past year. The District Manager, District Office staff and I look forward to continuing to work with the Council on issues of mutual interest in the coming year.”