Belfast Telegraph

First step in dismantling of Housing Executive revealed

BY MICHELLE SMYTH

A scheme to enable 2,000 Housing Executive (NIHE) homes to be refurbished if they are transferred to housing associations has been announced.

If tenants vote in favour of The Stock Transfer Programme, their homes will be transferred to housing associations that will match government funding with private investment.

The scheme heralds the dismantling of the Housing Executive, which does not have the funds to carry out the extensive refurbishments required.

It will be rolled out in three phases over a year from this September.

The programme is part of the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland's recently announced housing strategy Facing The Future.

Mr McCausland said: "Since I took up this role, ensuring that the social housing stock throughout Northern Ireland is maintained to a good standard has been a priority. This programme will see homes that require multi-element improvements get those improvements much more quickly."

The minister said all tenants will be consulted about the programme and that "affordable rent levels" is central to the scheme. He added that the programme will act as a stimulus to the local economy and the construction sector due to building work.

Cameron Watt, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA), revealed stock transfer schemes elsewhere have proven successful, saying: "The fact is there is a shortfall in funding of over £1bn that has to be filled to bring Housing Executive homes up to the required standard."

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