02 March 2017

Labour’s Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has welcomed the ten point plan put forward by the Simon Community today to make use of the vacant and derelict homes as the quickest way to deal with the housing and homelessness crisis.

Commenting on the plan, Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“On 31st August 2016, following the publication of census data that identified nearly 200,000 vacant homes, excluding holiday homes, I published an eight point plan, much of which coincides with Simon’s proposals. They have also repeated our call for the implementation of the Kenny Report ,which was part of the Labour Party Housing Bill that was narrowly defeated in the Dáil before Christmas that seeks to end the all too common practice of hoarding land that could be used for housing.

“The Simon Community estimates that nearly 13% of the total housing stock is currently lying empty across Ireland, nearly double the usual level for a functioning housing market, and 27 times the number of people stuck in emergency accommodation.

“There can be real solutions here for those who need a home. But there is no sense of urgency in the Government’s response; they committed to carry out an audit of all empty homes when Rebuilding Ireland was launched last July. Yet, as confirmed in a parliamentary reply to me last week, that audit hasn’t even started.

“We need to know where those units are, why they are vacant and what needs to be done to bring them back into use.”


Notes to Editors:

Please find the PQ submitted to the Minister in February:

Question No. 54

To the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government:

To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he has received returns from all local authorities regarding the audit of empty houses in their administrative areas; the substantive information that has been returned, if there are some that have supplied no information; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Jan O’Sullivan.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 23rd February, 2017.

Ref No: 8825/17


Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Damien English):

Pillar 5 of the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness – Rebuilding Ireland is specifically focused on Utilising Existing Housing Stock, with a key objective of ensuring that the existing vacant housing stock throughout the country and across all forms of tenure, in both the public and private sectors, is used to the optimum degree possible. In this regard, Action 5.1 of Rebuilding Ireland commits to the development of a National Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy by the first quarter of 2017, informed by Census 2016 data, to –

– inform the compilation of a register of vacant units across the country,
– identify the number, location and reasons for longer-term vacancies (i.e. over 6 months) in high demand areas, and
– set out a range of actions to bring vacant units back into reuse

To this end, the Housing Agency, which has lead responsibility for coordinating the development of the Strategy, has established a working group in September 2016 comprising of senior representatives from my Department, local authorities and from the Housing Agency itself to inform the Strategy. The Group is due to report by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

As indicated, it is intended to facilitate the development of a national database of vacant houses under the auspices of the National Vacant Housing Re-use Strategy. The database will aim to include:

– the number of vacant homes in each local authority area,
– the addresses of the vacant homes,
– the length of vacancy in each case, and
– the reason(s) for vacancy.

Work is progressing on identifying possible sources of data and information to assist in the most efficient means of compiling such a database.

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