Over 700 households here are ‘homeless’

The Braid. (Editorial Image)
The Braid. (Editorial Image)

More than 700 households in Mid & East Antrim are currently accepted as being ‘homeless’ by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Homelessness is one of a number of key housing issues within the four year Housing Investment Plan (HIP) for the borough, the first annual update of which was presented by Housing Executive (NIHE) representatives to Mid & East Antrim Council’s Community Planning Committee’s August meeting.

The 2016 update revealed that NIHE accepted as homeless 57% of the 1,345 households presenting as such - a six per cent decrease from the previous year.

The committee also heard that 2,559 applicants are on the waiting list and that of those 1,469 (57%) are in housing stress.

Members were told that the Mid & East Antrim HIP not only provides an overview of the housing market in the borough but also details local social housing investment.

It reveals that the requirement for new social housing here has consistently increased since 2011 and that the five-year assessment for 2015-20 shows a need for 935 units with need concentrated in Ballymena Town (450 units) and Carrickfergus (270) and also a rural housing need of 53 units at Broughshane and 35 units at Ahoghill.

In 2015-16, 525 social housing allocations were made and 117 new social homes started, councillors were told.

NIHE spent a total of £29.36million in the borough in 2015-16, which included a £13.4 new build/HA grant, with the lion’s share being spent on supporting people (£5.14m), followed by planned maintenance (£4.87m) and response maintenance (£3.34m).

Maintenance Investment resulted in 321 homes benefitting from heating schemes, 173 from outside maintenance, 644 from double glazing, 122 from kitchen installations and 504 homes were fitted with smoke alarms.

The projected spend for 2016-17, over and above any new build/HA grant, is £17million, the committee heard.