More than 2,500 new homes and approximately 1,200 jobs to be created over next five years with the announcement of the largest housing programme ever to be launched in the province.
The £340 million scheme for social and affordable housing has been brought together by Choice, the largest housing association working in Northern Ireland, and will be funded through a combination of private finance and government grants.
The plans include the building of more than 2,500 new social and affordable homes in the next five years, the improvement of existing homes plus potential transfer of housing stock held by other providers.
The project is expected to generate more than 700 construction jobs over five-years and support up to 500 associated jobs in the supply chain.
The association has 40 strategic partners in place which deliver a number of construction and supported housing programmes.
Choice was formed when OakleeTrinity and Ulidia Housing Associations merged to maximise their investment potential and develop a bold step-change in the delivery of new homes and the quality of supported housing services. The 10,000-home landlord already holds property assets of more than £700m and an annual turnover of more than £40m.
“Today’s announcement brings good news for Choice and for Northern Ireland,” said chairman Timothy Quin.
“This programme marks the start of an ambitious journey that will carry forward a focused plan to deliver more homes, better services and stronger communities.”
Over the next five years, he said thousands of people would benefit directly from the homes and employment opportunities Choice planned to create.
“As a social enterprise we want to continue to evolve, to maximise on regeneration opportunities while performing better for the communities we serve with more than just housing,” he added.
“That means directing our resources and commercial ambition towards the acute immediate challenges and to setting new standards of excellence within the sector.”
Welcoming the announcement of additional funding by Choice, Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey said: “In May, I was pleased to announce that over 10,000 new social and affordable homes had been delivered during the Programme for Government period 2011/12 to 2014/15 – more than were promised.
“The associations that now make up Choice delivered 20 per cent of the social housing output.
“I have no doubt that the competitive edge gained by the merger of the already strong performing associations of Oaklee, Trinity and Ulidia will pay further dividends for the people of Northern Ireland.
“The investment package announced today demonstrates confidence in the strength of the social housing sector and their ability to deliver a sustainable quality product.”
Chris Martin, head of social housing at Danske Bank, a funder of the programme, said: “As Northern Ireland’s primary funder to the social housing sector it is fitting that Danske Bank is involved in helping the largest local housing association with its ambitious plans. We are proud to support Choice as it seeks to meet the need for new homes and embark on a major building programme.”