Almost 600 people in Antrim and Newtownabbey placed in temporary accommodation

There were 3,119 applicants on the housing waiting list in Antrim and Newtownabbey at the end of the last financial year, the Housing Executive has said.
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Of these, 2,378 applicants were in “housing stress” in the borough with single, older persons and small family households in most urgent need. A total of 593 people were placed in temporary accommodation with “increased reliance” on hotels and B&Bs.

The Housing Executive has indicated 1,125 social housing properties are required in the borough during the next five years. There were 517 social housing allocations in Antrim and Newtownabbey during 2022/23. Across the borough, 1,341 people who presented as homeless were accepted for support.

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In a presentation to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council at a meeting in Mossley Mill, on Monday evening, Grainia Long, the Housing Executive’s chief executive, told councillors the Housing Executive manages 6,315 homes locally.

Grainia Long, Housing Executive chief executive. Pic: Housing ExecutiveGrainia Long, Housing Executive chief executive. Pic: Housing Executive
Grainia Long, Housing Executive chief executive. Pic: Housing Executive

“Last year, £18.24m was invested in new-build homes in the district with 371 housing association units on-site at March 2023 and 155 housing completions for the year and 417 planned to start in the next three years.

“In Antrim and Newtownabbey, we invested £3.81m on planned maintenance including stock improvements last year, with a further £9.59m spent on response maintenance.” However, she commented the £3.8m budget for planned maintenance and stock improvements is “much lower than we want it to be”.

Fence Painting

Last year, the Housing Executive carried out the installation of new heating in 324 homes, bathroom replacements in 10 homes, bathroom and kitchen rewiring in 77 homes, 93 received external maintenance and fence painting was carried out at 381 properties in the borough. Boilers were replaced in 85 properties. The sum of £0.92m was spent on home adaptations for people with a disability.

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The chief executive reported an overall expenditure in Antrim and Newtownabbey by the Housing Executive during 2022/23 of almost £40m. The sum of £25.41m was spent on housing benefit.

“Our role as landlords is to know and understand what we need to invest in our homes to ensure it is deliverable and to monitor progress of our contractors,” she continued.

“Because of significant constraints, the boiler replacement scheme was paused last year, The Affordable Warmth scheme continues and is a really important grant for people.”

The chief executive reported a “dramatic increase” in demand for temporary accommodation with expenditure increasing from £76,000 in 2018/19 to £383k during the last financial year.

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“We do not want anybody to be in temporary accommodation for a long time. We work to make sure we are not placing families with children in hotel accommodation. That is something we take very seriously.”

Airport Ulster Unionist Cllr Paul Michael BEM asked at what stage does the Housing Executive believe it will be working with an “aged stock”. The chief executive replied: “There is some stock in this area that is older.”

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Macedon DUP Cllr Matthew Brady said he is “inundated on a regular basis” by tenants waiting all day for contractors to arrive and contractors who “just seem to throw their hands in the air”.

Antrim DUP Cllr Paul Dunlop BEM asked about the number of vacant Housing Executive properties. He was told this is “well below one per cent”.

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Glengormley Sinn Fein Cllr Eamonn McLaughlin asked about the number of evictions due to rent arrears. He was told the Housing Executive does not evict for rent arrears unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.

The chief executive described it as “a very sensitive area for tenants” adding that an “overwhelming number of tenants do not want to get into rent arrears”.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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