Northern Ireland Housing Executive

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The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is the public housing authority for Northern Ireland. It is the enforcing authority for those parts of housing orders that involve houses with multiple occupants, houses that are unfit, and housing conditions.[1][2]

Origins[edit]

The Housing Executive was established in 1971 by the Housing Executive Act (Northern Ireland).

The creation of the Housing Executive is linked to the civil disturbances in Northern Ireland throughout the 1960s.[citation needed] Prior to 1971, the allocation of public housing was the responsibility of local councils in Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Trust. In June 1968, Dungannon Rural District Council was accused of discriminating against a Catholic family when it allocated a new council house in the Caledon area to a young single Protestant woman with links to a local Unionist politician.[3] This incident proved to be the catalyst for the ensuing civil rights marches in Dungannon and Derry that ultimately led to widespread civil disturbance.

In his Parliamentary report on the following disturbances, Lord Cameron concluded that there was:

A rising sense of continuing injustice and grievance among large sections of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland, in particular in Derry and Dungannon, in respect of (i) inadequacy of housing provision by certain local authorities (ii) unfair methods of allocation of houses built and let by such authorities, in particular; refusals and omissions to adopt a 'points' system in determining priorities and making allocations (iii) misuse in certain cases of discretionary powers of allocation of houses in order to perpetuate Unionist control of the local authority[3]

A single all-purpose housing authority for Northern Ireland had been advocated as early as 1964 by the Northern Ireland Labour Party[4] but it was not until the British Home Secretary, James Callaghan, visited the Stormont Government in the wake of the Belfast Riots of August 1969 and pressed for a unified housing body that the Stormont regime took the idea seriously. Although the Bill was proposed by the Ulster Unionist Minister of Development, Brian Faulkner, it was strongly opposed by Unionist right-wingers[4] and by followers of Ian Paisley.

The new organisation was modelled on the Northern Ireland Housing Trust. In 1973, it took over the housing functions of the New Town Development Commissions for Derry, Antrim, Ballymena, and Craigavon.[1][5]

A report published in June 2010 by Queens University Belfast states that social housing in Northern Ireland is not adeuqately funded and breaches international human rights.[6]

Functions and responsibilities[edit]

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive's website cites its main functions as being:

  • to regularly examine housing conditions and housing requirements;
  • to draw up wide ranging programmes to meet these needs;
  • to effect the closure, demolition and clearance of unfit houses;
  • to effect the improvement of the condition of the housing stock;
  • to encourage the provision of new houses;
  • to establish housing information and advisory services;
  • to consult with District Councils and the Northern Ireland Housing Council;
  • to manage its own housing stock in Northern Ireland

The organisation is also the home energy conservation authority for Northern Ireland. It has statutory responsibility for homelessness and also administers the housing benefit system and Supporting People programme in Northern Ireland.

In 1991 the Housing Executive owned 170,000 dwellings in Northern Ireland.[7] In 2007, primarily due to the organisation's 'right to buy' policy, the housing stock had reduced to just over 92,000.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b J. B. Cullingworth and Vincent Nadin (2001). Town and Country Planning in the Uk. Routledge. p. 52. ISBN 0-415-21775-X. 
  2. ^ Henry Hurrell Clay and W. H. Bassett (1999). Clay's Handbook of Environmental Health. Taylor & Francis. p. 115. ISBN 0-419-22960-4. 
  3. ^ a b Cameron, Lord (1969). Disturbances in Northern Ireland: Report of the Commission appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland. Belfast: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 
  4. ^ a b Brett, C.E.B (1986). Housing A Divided Community. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration. p. 171. ISBN 0-906980-49-6. 
  5. ^ Gerald McSheffrey (2000). Planning Derry: Planning and Politics in Northern Ireland. Liverpool University Press. p. 101. ISBN 0-85323-724-7. 
  6. ^ Social housing in not adequately funded- QUB
  7. ^ Artur Bezelga and P S Brandon (1991). Management, Quality and Economics in Building. Taylor & Francis. p. 1721. ISBN 0-419-17470-2. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]