Vacant Homes must be tapped to ease Homelessness Crisis

26 May 2017

Labour Housing Spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has said a vacant tax on properties that are lying empty for long periods of time must be considered as a means of tackling the housing and homelessness crisis.

It follows a week which saw 12 families reportedly sent to Garda Stations due to a lack of emergency accommodation, and new Department of Housing figures that saw a rise in the number of homeless families in Ireland.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“I think everybody who heard about children having to sleep rough in a Dublin park this week was rightly shocked and appalled that such a scenario could have arisen.

“It is clear that we need a swift remedy to the homeless situation- and one obvious solution is to avail of the nearly 200,000 properties that are lying vacant across the country.

“Ireland currently has about twice the percentage of empty homes as other European countries, which seems ludicrous given there are nearly five thousand adults and almost three thousand children homeless here.

“People in towns and cities across the country could likely point to several houses lying empty in their areas. Vacant Homes Officers should be put in place in each of the local authorities here who would go out and assess these vacant properties and then go about acquiring them. These are currently in place in the UK and was a suggestion recently put forward by the Peter McVerry Trust.

“We also need to seriously consider a vacant homes tax to ensure properties lying empty for long periods of time can be brought back into use. While the supply issue is also a crucial one that needs addressing to solve this crisis, tapping into the vacancies that already exist would be a quick and relatively simple short-term remedy.”

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