The Department of Infrastructure is exploring the possibility of developing a housing association to manage its stock of 1,200 public sector properties.

The work is in its very early stages and will be progressed through discussions at department level and with the Housing and Communities Board.

The government says that a housing association owned by the Isle of Man Government but operated at arm’s length could provide a number of benefits, particularly through separating the operational concerns of delivering day-to-day solutions for the community from housing strategy and policy.

A spokesperson for the DoI said: ‘An association would be free to access funding streams outside the government and, alongside a coherent and robust business plan, able to focus on national priorities. These may include the provision of key worker housing, subsidised packages for young families and first-time buyers, or new initiatives for those who need more support such as the elderly, homeless or those leaving the care system.

‘While work takes place to draw out the specific benefits, taking the process any further would firstly involve communication and consultation with stakeholders.’

The department would seek the views of local authorities on how joining or forming a housing association may or may not work for their specific communities. Engagement would also take place with tenants in properties managed by the DoI through consultation on existing services and how they could be improved. Tenants will see no change to their arrangements while this process takes place.

Infrastructure Minister Tim Crookall said: ‘This is the start of an exercise to assess the suitability of a housing model which works well elsewhere, and may play an important role in delivering the aims of Our Island Plan.

‘Tackling the island’s housing crisis is a commitment within Our Island Plan, under the Building Great Communities theme, to ensure ‘everyone has a suitable and affordable place to call home and our housing stock meets the needs of our population now and into the future’.

Tynwald members will be asked at next month’s sitting to receive the Housing Stock Options Report by the David Tolson Partnership Limited and support a consultation on the preferred option to better understand the implications of adopting the model. Once that has been completed, and before progressing further, the Department of Infrastructure would report to Tynwald with its detailed recommendations and project plan.

It comes as the reorganisation of the Department of Infrastructure has been a key goal of Chief Minister, Alfred Cannan, who was interim infrastructure minister over the summer.

A move to make another area of the DoI, the airport, arm’s length is already being explored.