When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Sheltered and supported housing

People who can't manage independently in their own homes might want to apply for sheltered or supported housing.  These are two different options.  Sheltered housing allows residents independence but provides on site support and assistance.  Supported housing can be a good option for people who need extra help with day to day tasks.  The level of support you'll get  is usually dependent on your particular care needs. 

Supported housing for young people

Foyers are specialist temporary housing for young people.  There are 3 in Northern Ireland, one in L/Derry and 2 in Belfast.  Foyers can help you learn to live independently if you're aged 16-25.  If you're under 18 you'll need to be referred to the foyer by Social Services. 

Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing allows you the independence of your own space and the comfort of knowing someone is there to provide help and support if you need it. It's often provided by housing associations, but can also be Housing Executive housing.  Sheltered housing units are often reserved for people aged 55 and over. 

You'll have a certain amount of care provided if you live in a sheltered housing unit, but you'll usually be left to do your own cooking and housework if you are able.  If you need extra help managing your day to day tasks, you can usually get this through Social Services. 

Some sheltered housing units provide more care to residents than others.  These units are known as extra-care housing or very sheltered housing. Extra care housing is often reserved for people who are particularly frail, have a disability or have mental ill health.  Meals and help with housework are generally included as part of the care in these units. 

Finding sheltered housing

Many housing associations provide sheltered housing units.  The Housing Care website allows you to search through lots of different providers to find an option to suit you.  Which also includes a care directory which you can search to find accommodation providers. 

If the property is owned by the Housing Executive or housing association you will need to apply for social housing before they can offer you a tenancy. 

It may be possible to buy a property in a sheltered housing complex.  You'll need to keep an eye out on property websites or contact housing associations directly to see if any such properties are available. 

Paying for sheltered housing

How you pay for sheltered housing will depend on whether you buy or rent and what your financial situation is. Rights4Seniors has more information on the cost of sheltered housing. 

Supported housing

Supported housing is usually accessed through Social Services.  This type of housing may be suitable for people who have particularly complex needs, perhaps because of a learning disability, physical disability or mental ill health.  Supported housing providers want to help their tenants learn skills to live independently but have support in place to help people cope with day to day tasks.  They usually offer a range of types of accommodation.  This includes 

  • group housing schemes where tenants have their own bedrooms but share communal facilities
  • flat clusters where tenants have their own individual flat and
  • community housing, where tenants are housed in the community but are given regular intensive support by the housing provider. 

If you feel that you, or someone you know, would benefit from living in supported or sheltered housing speak to your GP and ask for a referral to Social Services.