Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Ritchie shows Ruane how it should be done

As Catriona Ruane continues to fulminate at both fellow Assembly members and the press for suggesting that she should do her job properly, it is heartening to see at least one of her ministerial colleagues tackling her brief by setting out concrete proposals and formulating a lucid set of policies.

Margaret Ritchie has outlined her plans to tackle housing problems in Northern Ireland and provide affordable housing based on need. She has consulted widely and in bullet points the following is her plan to tackle problems in this area.

• Build more homes- at least 5,250 in the next three years
• Make the existing co-ownership scheme more attractive for first time buyers
• Introduce a not-for-profit Mortgage Rescue Scheme
• Allow existing social housing tenants the chance to buy a stake in their homes
• Re-use houses through an Empty Homes Strategy
• Requiring future developments to include a proportion of homes for social and affordable housing
• Increase the energy efficiency of new social houses

In addition Ritchie stressed the importance that shared housing would be given in her strategy and announced concrete investment to be made in the Village area of South Belfast.

The minister’s statement comprises a clear articulation of goals, identification of ways in which she can achieve these goals, some concrete short term proposals and shows laudable commitment to environmental aims and to integrating communities by creating shared housing. I wish her well with these projects.

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