Homeless Connect, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) and Housing Rights have collectively welcomed the recent appointment of Gordon Lyons as the Minister for Communities.
The cohort have jointly extended their congratulations and a desire to work closely with the new Minister for Communities, to make significant strides toward ensuring every individual and family in Northern Ireland has access to safe and affordable housing, and services that meet their needs.
Justin Cartwright, CIH national director for Northern Ireland, welcomed the minister saying:
“We congratulate Minister Lyons on their new role and look forward to working together to address the critical issues in housing. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we prioritise housing as a fundamental aspect of our government’s agenda.”
In a joint effort to emphasise the urgency of this matter, the four organisations have written an open letter to the First Minister, Deputy First Minister, and party leaders. The letter advocates for the prioritisation of housing as a standalone outcome in the new Programme for Government, as previously pledged, with the aim of underscoring the vital role that stable housing plays in fostering community well-being, economic prosperity and overall societal development.
Speaking on the letter, Seamus Leheny, chief executive of NIFHA, added:
“Housing is one of the most important building blocks of a sustainable society with direct links to outcomes in health & wellbeing, education, and employment. Yet too often housing has been overlooked when Programme for Government and funding priorities are being set. We know from our work in the sector, that housing is fundamental, and that investing in housing can actually lead to cost savings in other areas. That is why we are asking the First & Deputy First Minister to show their commitment to tackling the housing crisis in the new Programme for Government.”
Nicola McCrudden, chief executive of Homeless Connect, further commented:
“In the last decade, the number of households on the social housing waiting list who are homeless has more than doubled. We have strategies to end homelessness, to support people experiencing homelessness and to increase housing supply, but they seriously lack the resources required for implementation.
“We welcome the incoming Minister who will not be unfamiliar with any of these issues. However, Minister Lyons will require commitment from right across the Executive to ensure that responding to homelessness is given high priority.”
Kate McCauley, chief executive officer of Housing Rights commented:
“Housing Rights looks forward to working with the incoming Minister and Executive to prioritise housing issues and to ensure a stand-alone housing outcome in the upcoming Programme for Government.”
The four organisations look forward to engaging in a productive dialogue with Minister Lyon and other stakeholders to ensure that our collective vision for housing security becomes a reality.