A leading University of Ulster planning expert has called for a clear housing strategy for Northern Ireland to be implemented urgently.
Professor Greg Lloyd, an independent member of the Commission on the Future for Housing, highlighted the need for greater co-operation between housing, health and social care providers while speaking at a seminar in Jordanstown today.
The Independent Commission on the Future for Housing, chaired by Lord Richard Best, published its report earlier this year setting out a vision for a transformed housing system in Northern Ireland. The report contained recommendations for change to the development and delivery of housing; to the relationships between the various tenures; the capacity and commitment of housing professionals to innovate; the importance of housing for the regional economy and a strategic approach to housing outcomes.
Professor Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment at Ulster, said: “There is a growing concern among housing professionals that the current stock of Supported Housing is increasingly inflexible to meet the needs of existing users. “The housing aspirations of our ageing population have of course changed over time, and we must move quickly to ensure that what we provide is what people want, and need, in the future. If we don’t, we risk considerably reduced demand for this form of accommodation, and restricted choice for those in housing need.”
He continued: “Housing strategy for Northern Ireland should include measures for the development and delivery of a range of housing options for older people and for others with complex support needs - to enable them to live independently within our communities. A strategy should set out targets for the next ten years to create an adequate supply of housing options for people with support needs that meets their needs and aspirations.” Peter Shanks, Lecturer in Housing Studies at Ulster, added: "There is an urgent need for greater collaboration between government departments and the pooling of resources between housing, health and social care providers.
“A skilled and professionalised workforce delivering effective, joint-up working across the three sectors would ensure a better future for housing in Northern Ireland.”