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Affordable Housing Definition Changes

A consultation opened by the Department for Communities NI on redefining affordable housing closes today. 

We have summarised the way that the Department for Communities is targeting its limited resources away from homeless families and individuals towards the 30% on the housing list in the least need. 

This includes ignoring the 15,000 children who are currently homeless in Northern Ireland. 

We are warning the public and other political and civic leaders not to be duped by the ‘sell’ of affordable housing – London has defined affordable housing at 80% of the market value of a property – unaffordable to most, particularly those in housing need and housing stress. 

We want affordable housing to be accessible to those that most need it and it should be defined as such. 

Our deeper analysis - the science bit - compares the duties borne by our public servants spending millions of public money each year and the focus on 'customers' and ultimately private developers profit and the mistatement of priorities.

"Rather than the guiding principles underpinning the definition being 'flexibility and the ability to accommodate different needs and situations,' the guiding principles are already set down in law – and are not reflected in this consultation document. They are:

  • to respond to objective need, per section 28E of the NI Act(1998)
  • to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity, under section 75 of the NI Act (1998)
  • to fulfil the Department for Communities’ stated duties around “tackling disadvantage and promoting equality of opportunity by reducing poverty” (https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/about-department-communities) as obligated and empowered under Section 75 of the NI Act (1998) and the St Andrew’s Agreement (2008).
"In particular, the objective “to target our resources on those households who need help to access suitable and affordable housing” is woefully misstated. In line with the Department for Communities’ duties arising from the above legislation, the Department has a specific obligation towards those experiencing the greatest level of objective need and poverty.
Instead however the Department, as explained further down in the document, explicitly “target our resources” not to the homeless or to those in housing stress, but to those with enough resources to access ‘intermediate housing’ products: expressly, four “customer groupings”

 

If you want to read our consultation response in full it is available here.