Almost £12 million will be spent by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) in Fermanagh and Omagh in 2015-2016.

The latest NIHE Housing Investment Plan for Fermanagh and Omagh shows that the £11.76 million will be distributed as follows: £5 million on short term accommodation for the homeless and adults with learning disabilities or mental health problems; £2.6 million on nine local maintenance schemes; £1.7 million on response maintenance (e.g. minor disabled person adaptations); £1.5 million on private sector grants (a scheme that allows owner-occupiers and landlords to access adaptations to homes); £700,000 on grounds improvement; and £210,000 on capital improvements.

There are 45,000 households in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area; 10 per cent of which are social rented homes. Sixteen percent are private rented and 72 per cent are owner occupied.

Housing benefit is being claimed by 4,700 private sector tenants in the district. The report states: “Welfare Reform is likely to increase the demand for smaller social housing units.”

Social housing is currently needed in Enniskillen town centre, where there is a gap in supply for singles and older people. In the forthcoming year, the NIHE will search for “hidden social housing need” in Ballinamallard, Irvinestown and Kesh.

Within Fermanagh. there were 787 applications to the NIHE for housing (at March 2015); 323 of these were in housing stress and 249 were allocated housing.

Last year, 27 social housing units were completed in the district (including McNean Court, Belcoo, which is run by Ark Housing and Coolcullen Meadow, Drumawill, Enniskillen, which is run by Apex Housing - pictured). Another phase of Apex’s Drumawill development is due to be completed very soon. Last week, Apex Housing was granted planning permission to build a two-storey detached complex needs dwelling for seven people in Lisolvan Park, Brookeborough.

Fermanagh and Omagh’s elderly population is projected to increase to over 119,000 by 2023, representing one-fifth of the local population. More older people living at home will lead to an increased need for adaptations to Housing Executive homes. Over £1 million has been allocated for adaptations in 2015-2016.

Affordable housing is needed for single, under 35s who are struggling to get onto the property market. There are 106 multiple occupation homes (i.e. house shares that are rented by friends or young professionals) in the district. Co-ownership Housing Association (which helps people own their homes through part-buying, part-renting) has 88 properties in the district, ten of which were purchased in 2014/15.

The future housing mix in new build developments will need to cater for more older people and more singles, along with any potential changes associated with Welfare Reform, the report notes.

Over 600 local people presented as homeless last year. The NIHE accepted 290 of those and re-homed 80. Within the Fermanagh and Omagh district the three main reasons for homeless presentation are: sharing breakdown or family dispute; unreasonable accommodation; and loss of rented accommodation.

Local temporary accommodation includes 39 privately owned single lets and 16 hostel placements. Apex Housing’s supported living scheme at Rossorry Church Road, Enniskillen is due for completion soon. It will cater for young people and young homeless adults currently in care and will be managed by Action For Children.

Fourteen per cent of NIHE homes in the district are failing the Decent Homes Standard, according to the report, which blames “less disposable income and reduced public expenditure.” In order to tackle the unfitness, DSD will introduce a pilot loans scheme in 2015/16 to reduce unfitness levels in private homes.

Approximately 55 per cent of homes in the council area are in fuel poverty. In order to tackle this, under the Affordable Warmth Scheme, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council must deliver 1,000 completed household surveys to the Housing Executive in March 2016 and in March 2017. In addition, the Boiler Replacement Scheme has received approval to run one more year (2015/16) with funding of £2 million for all of Northern Ireland. Funding for improvements to Housing Executive dwellings is partly raised by rental income from tenants, therefore DSD has set a target to transfer 2,000 Housing Executive homes to housing associations. In addition, the NIHE will install 200 photovoltaic (PV) schemes across the district, although precise locations are not yet known as surveys are required to determine property and tenants’ willingness to participate.

The NIHE states: “This Housing Investment Plan (HIP) has been developed as a ‘Comprehensive Conversation piece’ for the housing sector informed by a range of stakeholders. This vision for Fermanagh and Omagh District seeks to deliver sustainable communities, living in dwellings of a decent standard and in sufficient numbers to meet local needs in both urban and rural areas.”