Updated: Jun 2
The newly appointed Tenant Advocate and several Housing Policy Panel (HPP) members paid a visit to Parliament Buildings this week to meet with the All-Party Group on Housing.
Patricia McQuillan, the chairperson for the HPP and Tenant Advocate for Northern Ireland, presented an overview of the Panel’s work since its creation in 2017. She spoke about her new role and the importance of having a representative of the Tenants’ voice at the table where decisions that affect them are being made.
Dave Maher, an HPP member representing Habinteg Housing Association Ulster, impressed upon the group the life-changing nature of social housing by telling his personal story of becoming a tenant. Two additional HPP members, Elishia Mullan (Clanmil Housing) and Pat Monteague (Ark Housing), were also in the gallery lending their support.
Supporting Communities, in our role as the Independent Tenant Organisation, has regularly convened the HPP since its inception, working with the members to develop their capacity to engage with decision-makers. Siobhan ONeill, our Tenant Participation and Community Development Officer, provided the All-Party Group with a presentation on our role in ensuring the aims of the Tenant Participation Strategy for Northern Ireland (2015-2020) are met on behalf of the Department for Communities. She spoke about the need for an updated Strategy to enable us to take tenant participation to the next level.
The members of the All-Party Group were very interested in the presentations, thanking the tenants and staff for sharing their experiences. We have been invited to return to keep the group updated on our work and how the Executive can further our aims to put tenants at the heart of social housing.
Colm McDaid, CEO of Supporting Communities, remarked, “Today’s meeting has been very positive and engaging. The Housing Policy Panel is a clear example of how tenants can influence housing-related matters strategically and in housing practice. We are delighted to support and work alongside these volunteers to make important changes and improvements to housing services in Northern Ireland.
Patricia McQuillan will speak on behalf of the HPP again on 13 June at the first-ever All-Ireland Tenant Engagement Conference on a panel with policymakers from the Department of Communities and the Housing Agency Ireland. This will be Supporting Communities’ first large-scale conference, which will raise the profile and standard of tenant engagement for social housing tenants throughout the island of Ireland.
Learn more about the Housing Policy Panel
The HPP is a group of tenants representing housing associations and the Housing Executive in Northern Ireland. They act as a sounding board for the Department of Communities when developing strategies and policies that will affect the social housing sector. They respond to consultations, pilot new training courses and work to ensure that tenants’ voices, rights and concerns are represented and considered at a strategic level.