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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing Rights responds to the Department for Communities' consultation on the definition of affordable housing

Housing Rights has responded to the Department for Communities’ consultation on the Definition of Affordable Housing.

The consultation paper was produced by the Department to inform engagement on proposals for an updated definition of ‘affordable housing’ for Northern Ireland, with the aim of producing a clear definition which can be applied consistently in legislation, policy, local plans and practice.

Housing Rights welcomes the Department’s decision to put forward initial thoughts whilst also calling for additional evidence and insight from stakeholders to assist in policy refinement in this area.

Housing Rights’ response includes the following key points:

  • It may be useful for the Department to establish a small stakeholder group to consider affordability issues more fully;
  • Housing Rights welcomes the direct linkage of the definition of affordable housing to the draft Programme for Government indicators 8 and 48, however suggests that the Department also consider the direct relevance of indicator 19 which relates to poverty;
  • The next stage of policy development in this area should include a robust scoping exercise to evidence the affordability issues across all tenures;
  • Policy development around the definition should make explicit reference to all of the housing tenures in the housing market to reflect Government responsibility being cross-tenure;
  • The revised definition should not be product based;
  • The proposed definition could be strengthened if it included assessment of housing costs and household income;
  • The connection between quality and standards is important and Housing Rights recommends that the definition recognises this.

Further discussions on affordable housing

The review of the definition of affordable housing is one of the most important emerging policies in Northern Ireland, and Housing Rights looks forward to participating in further discussion on the issue. Housing Rights and the Chartered Institute of Housing are partnering to hold a joint conference looking at how to most effectively deliver affordable housing in Northern Ireland. The event will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to consider how best to respond to the challenge of delivering homes which are genuinely affordable. 

Read Housing Rights response to the consultation.

The consultation will close on the 13th September 2019.

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This article was written on 4 September 2019. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.