GOVERNMENT TOO SLOW TO ACT ON VACANT HOUSING UNITS
Labour Housing Spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has said the Government is not moving fast enough in bringing vacant houses back into use across the country to tackle the housing crisis.
Deputy O’Sullivan’s comments come ahead of a public meeting on Housing, hosted by the Labour Party in Cork tonight
Deputy O’Sullivan said:
“There are nearly 200,000 empty homes across the country, many of them in cities and large towns where the pressure to house people is at its worst.
“Yet Minister Coveney has still not published the Vacant Homes Strategy he promised in the Action Plan announced last July.
“Ireland has a much higher rate of empty properties than average, at 13% of the total housing stock, which is nearly double the usual level for a functioning housing market.
“There is no evidence that this has changed since the census figures were published in August, and is it high time for the Government to take decisive action.
“The most effective tool at their disposal is a tax on properties that are left empty for long periods. By all means let there be incentives as well, whether to assist the owner with the cost of renovation or more useful in my view, by allocating money directly to Local Authorities to purchase and refurbish the home for families on their waiting list.
“Last Autumn I published an eight point plan to bring vacant homes back in to use. I also support the call by the Peter McVerry Trust for each County and City Council to appoint a vacant homes officer, to find out what properties are vacant and why and to proactively work to have them occupied again.
“This is the quickest win.
“However, the Department also needs to ramp up the pace of construction of new houses and apartments in conjunction with Local Authorities.”