08 May 2017

Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has said it’s vital that councils make proper use of the Government’s Vacant Properties Programme, to ensure people are taken off social housing waiting lists as soon as possible.

It follows reports of claims by the National Oversight Audit Commission that local authorities may be purposely delaying the refurbishment of vacant homes using their own resources, to avail of Government funding.

Commenting on the reports, Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“The Vacant Properties Scheme has proven successful, with over five thousand local authority homes being brought back into use.

“But many of us would question why there are still hundreds of empty units to be turned around?

“Just last week €24 million was announced for this scheme, with 112 in Cork, and 539 in Dublin to be refurbished.

“It would appear from this report that local authorities are keeping much needed council housing units, known as ‘voids’, vacant, until they become eligible for Government refurbishment funding.

“This simply isn’t acceptable, especially given that we are in the middle of a housing and homelessness crisis.

“It’s important that best practice is sought across all councils so that the scheme isn’t abused, and I would call on any councils that might be leaving properties vacant to make proper use of the scheme to get people off waiting lists and into homes.

“It is incumbent on Minister Coveney to monitor and intervene, to ensure that potential homes are not being left vacant deliberately to avail of department funding.

“We also know that there are nearly 200,000 vacant private dwellings around the country which I have long argued should be availed of to tackle the homelessness crisis. It’s beyond belief that this is even an issue at this stage.”

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