The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is the public housing authority for Northern Ireland. It is the enforcing authority for those parts of housing orders that involve houses with multiple occupants, houses that are unfit, and housing conditions.
The Housing Executive was established in 1971 by the Housing Executive Act (Northern Ireland).
The creation of the Housing Executive is linked to the civil disturbances in Northern Ireland throughout the 1960s. Prior to 1971, the allocation of public housing was the responsibility of local councils in Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Trust. In June 1968, Dungannon Rural District Council was accused of discriminating against a Catholic family when it allocated a new council house in the Caledon area to a young single Protestant woman with links to a local Unionist politician. This incident proved to be the catalyst for the ensuing civil rights marches in Dungannon and Derry that ultimately led to widespread civil disturbance.
In his Parliamentary report on the following disturbances, Lord Cameron concluded that there was:
A rising sense of continuing injustice and grievance among large sections of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland, in particular in Derry and Dungannon, in respect of (i) inadequacy of housing provision by certain local authorities (ii) unfair methods of allocation of houses built and let by such authorities, in particular; refusals and omissions to adopt a 'points' system in determining priorities and making allocations (iii) misuse in certain cases of discretionary powers of allocation of houses in order to perpetuate Unionist control of the local authority.
A single all-purpose housing authority for Northern Ireland had been advocated as early as 1964 by the Northern Ireland Labour Party but it was not until the British Home Secretary, James Callaghan, visited the Stormont Government in the wake of the Belfast Riots of August 1969 it was created