Northern Ireland new-build homes at highest in seven years
The number of new homes being started in Northern Ireland is at the highest level in seven years, according to statistics released by the Department for Communities.
The department's Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin shows the number of new dwellings commenced from April to June was 2,444 - 19% higher than the same quarter last year, and the highest since 2010.
While the number of homes completed during this period fell 2.4%, it continues a long-term upward trend.
Nicola McCrudden, Chartered Institute of Housing director for Northern Ireland, said: "The improvement in the level of housebuilding is very welcome. It is being driven by the ongoing recovery of the private sector, which started the highest number of new homes in seven years.
"The housing association sector also continues to contribute by providing much-needed social homes.
"The ongoing recovery of house-building in Northern Ireland will help to ease pressure on rents and house prices.
"However, the level of new house-building needs to keep up with the level of need and we still have some way to go.
"There are obstacles that we must overcome including getting land where it is needed and improving our planning system."
Ms McCrudden added: "The impact of Brexit is yet to be determined. There are concerns about the availability of skilled labour, the cost of materials and access to European finance for social housing providers."
The bulletin also revealed a rising number of people who are homeless and qualify for full assistance under the law.
Ms McCrudden said: "Levels of homelessness remain unacceptably high in Northern Ireland.
"This is partly due to existing accommodation no longer meeting the needs of growing numbers of people with complex needs."