This paper aims to assess the sufficiency and affordability of housing in Northern Ireland and the implications which housing costs have for living standards. Looking at supply and demand there does not appear to be any misallocation between the regions of Northern Ireland in terms of overall housing provision. However, in assessing the sufficiency of different types of housing the evidence does show that there is a considerable shortage of supply of social housing in regions where demand is highest.

In terms of affordability, on average, housing in Northern Ireland appears to be relatively affordable. Yet, this paper shows that the living standards of particular groups at the margins are significantly impacted by housing costs. This is particularly the case for low income households in the private rented sector, who face a particularly high housing cost burden and a high risk of poverty. The evidence suggests that the social rented sector should be expanded to include these households, rather than seeking to intervene in the private rental market.