Eighteen years after the Good Friday Agreement, social housing in Northern Ireland remains segregated on sectarian lines as a consequence of the conflict.
Over the past number of years, Clanmil has worked with the Housing Executive to develop housing that offers a choice for people who wish to live in shared spaces.
Ten new developments have now been identified as potential shared future schemes including our development at Felden in Newtownabbey.
Local young people responded to sectarian graffiti at Felden by voicing their whole hearted support for a shared neighbourhood in a video they made.
Our critics castigate such efforts as “social engineering”. However, was it not the worst kind of social engineering that resulted in the forced migration of the population of Northern Ireland into single identity communities in the early 70’s?
Clanmil offers a choice to those who need a home and provides a safe space to live and raise families. We allocate homes based on housing need.
And what is striking, is the huge need for social housing, especially in the greater Belfast area.
Our experience is that the people moving into our shared future developments welcome the opportunity to live in a mixed community. Their priority is a home in a safe environment and they welcome shared spaces.
This is not easy and not without challenges and we accept that it may well take generations to achieve the desired impact from peace building, good relations work and sharing our spaces.
However, we have a duty to do all we can to support those who aspire to live in a safe and shared space that is welcoming to all.
Colette Moore, Group Director of Housing at Clanmil Housing
• This is an abridged version of an article that appears in the latest edition of VIEW magazine, which is published on the Viewdigital online news site www.viewdigital.org.