Eight young housing professionals lead debate on industry’s future
Social housing is facing a cliff-edge scenario when households are hit by the bedroom tax next year. Speaking ahead of the Northern Ireland Housing Festival Tom Potter, chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) NI Futures – a group of young housing professionals – said it is more important than ever that younger people working in housing are resilient in the tough environment.
Up to 34,000 households in Northern Ireland are set to lose protection from the bedroom tax in March 2020. Payments that top up people’s losses under the tax are due to expire, with no Northern Ireland Executive in place to act on the issue.
Tom said: “Local measures that protect people from the worst aspects of welfare reform have gone a long way in helping them to maintain a secure and affordable home. The bedroom tax risks rent arrears, eviction and homelessness. It risks fewer social homes being built since rents go towards loan repayments for new housebuilding.
“There are many professionals employed in social housing – particularly younger professionals – who work on the frontline with tenants and residents, helping to build sustainable communities. They will now do so under the weight of the bedroom tax, which will make it harder for tenants to stay in their homes.
“It’s vital that housing professionals are the best they can be in their jobs, given the important role that they play in communities and in this tough environment. For this reason, the eight of us who make up the CIH NI Futures group have organised an event focusing on personal and professional development and resilience.
“The Housing Festival is a space for young professionals to come together, debate the big issues facing housing and celebrate the significant work being done in communities every day.”
The Housing Festival 2019, which is sponsored by Connswater Homes, is taking place today (9 August) at Radius Housing in Belfast.
Connswater Homes chief executive Jacqueline Locke MBE said: “I am delighted that Connswater Homes is sponsoring the Housing Festival. Young professionals are central to achieving sustainability, service excellence and innovation in housing. Our staff and board will be working on these goals in a tough financial environment under the burden of welfare reform and political uncertainty.
“It has never been more important to make sure value for money is embedded in the work of housing providers. We must offer services that tenants actually need and look at the wider picture of challenging poverty, improving health and wellbeing and promoting inclusivity.”
The members of CIH NI Futures are:
- Kathy Crawford, Radius Housing
- Hannah Kerr, Clanmil Housing
- Michaela McCusker, Housing Executive
- Ciaran McMahon, Housing Executive
- Martin Meek, Choice Housing
- Tom Potter, Clanmil Housing (chair)
- Stuart Rafferty, Connswater Homes
- Christine Sands, Radius Housing