The N. I. Housing Executive has confirmed that it was assessing how it delivers services, but would consult with staff and the local community about any proposals to alter services.
There had been concerns raised by the NIPSA trade union that a number of Housing Executive offices have been earmarked for closure over the coming months.
Paddy Mackel, NIPSA official with responsibility for housing matters, said local union representatives were given an indication that offices in the North West were due to close.
In response, a spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “We are currently looking at how best to deliver our services across Northern Ireland, with a view of better meeting customer needs. The way in which our customers access services is rapidly changing.
“We have seen a 23% reduction in footfall into our offices in the last four years and a marked increase in telephone and online contact and we expect this trend to accelerate in the future.”
The spokesperson added that the Housing Executive is looking at developing online services for tenants within the next year and have already extended the operating hours for the telephone service.
“We have also changed the way in which we deliver services to our tenants and those who are seeking social housing by increasing the number of front line officers and having them call directly to customers’ homes rather than them having to visit our offices.
“We are, of course, mindful that our customers are requiring our assistance now more than ever and that is why we offer services online, on the phone and face to face across Northern Ireland.”
The spokesperson said the Housing Executive wants to respond to the needs of customers while ensuring value for money and effective use of offices.
“Currently, we have offices in buildings which we either own or which we rent from private or public sector landlords. We would prefer to spend money on services than unnecessarily on buildings.”
The spokesperson added that if there are any proposals to alter services the Housing Executive will consult with the local community, staff, their trade unions and political representatives.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue expressed concern at the reports from union representatives that the Housing Executive was set to close a number of district offices.
She said: “The Housing Executive must provide clarity on these reports and make staff, tenants and service users fully aware of their next steps.”