What is the Housing Supply Strategy?
The basic purpose of the Housing Supply Strategy is to outline how the NI Executive will seek to ensure that there is an adequate supply of houses for people who live here. It is envisaged as a 15 year strategy.
The Strategy adopts a ‘whole system’ approach, considering the supply of housing right from the planning stages through to completion.
The Strategy has five objectives:
- Creating Affordable Options: Increase housing supply and affordable options across all tenures to meet housing need and demand.
- Prevention and Intervention: Prevent homelessness, reduce housing stress and improve and prioritise housing solutions for those most in need.
- Quality: Improve housing quality
- Better Places: Ensure the provision of housing options that contribute to the building and maintenance of thriving, inclusive communities and places
- Decarbonisation: Reduce whole-life carbon emissions from both new homes and existing homes and support a ‘just transition’ to carbon neutrality
The ultimate overall aim of the strategy over its lifetime is to deliver 100,000 homes, with at least a third of those homes being social homes.
Why does it matter?
An adequate supply of safe, secure and affordable housing is crucial if this society is to prevent and reduce homelessness. While a lack of housing supply is far from the only cause of homelessness, it is impossible to prevent and reduce homelessness without houses for people to live in.
Sadly, the numbers on the social housing waiting list continue to climb (in September 2021 standing at just under 45,000) and the numbers in temporary accommodation have increased by 65% since January 2019. If these figures are going to be reduced, increasing housing supply will be important.
This strategy seeks to address many of the issues which impact on housing supply in this society. It is designed to be an Executive wide strategy and it has the potential to make a real difference in terms of increasing supply of homes. Effective implementation will be all important.
What does Homeless Connect think about it?
We welcome the draft Housing Supply Strategy and believe that it is an ambitious document with the potential to make a real difference in the medium term. While we make a number of suggestions to amend the strategy in our response to the consultation, we are positive about the direction of travel it sets. You can read our full response here.
If the strategy is going to have the desired effect in terms of increasing housing supply, it will be vital for it to be (a) backed by the NI Executive collectively and (b) properly funded. The supply of housing goes beyond the Department for Communities. The strategy rightly views housing supply as a cross-cutting issue for the Executive as a whole. Other departments will need to buy in if the strategy is going to achieve its goals.
Significant funding over the 15 year life of the strategy will be needed to see the target of 100,000 homes delivered. We hope the NI Executive ensures the funding is there to deliver on this target.
The consultation closes on Wednesday February 9.