Page last updated at 06:01 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 07:01 UK

Boost for NI housing co-ownership

Building site
A deal was struck with the Bank of Ireland to provide the funding

Northern Ireland's housing co-ownership scheme has secured 35m in private finance, with 200 applications expected to be processed by the end of March.

The scheme helps people who cannot afford to buy their own home outright get onto the property ladder.

Earlier this year, the NI Housing Co-ownership Association warned it did not have the budget to keep up with demand.

However, Chief Executive Alan Crowe said the fresh funding was "great news" for people applying to join the scheme.

"There will be a property cap of 175,000 just for these homes, removing them from the realm of stamp duty, which is advantageous for the cash-strapped buyer," he said.

Mr Crowe said recent adjustments in the housing sector meant "more people can afford to come into the market at that level through co-ownership".

Earlier this year there were fears the scheme would not have the budget to keep up with demand, and the association had been unable to take in new applications for several months.

The fresh funding, which is in addition to the current year's grant of 15m from the Department for Social Development, was made available following negotiations with the Bank of Ireland.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said: "This is excellent news for people trying to get onto the housing ladder.

"The funding will ensure that the association will deliver the programme for government's target of 500 affordable houses this year."

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