New Minister needs to tackle Housing and Homelessness Crisis- O’Sullivan

14 June 2017

Labour Housing Spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has called on the newly appointed Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, to follow through on housing commitments made by the previous minister.

Deputy O’Sullivan said the new Minister had been given a clean slate to tackle one of the biggest issues currently facing the Irish people- that of housing and homelessness.

Deputy O’Sullivan commented:

“It is clear that the housing and homelessness crisis is one of the biggest and most critical issues facing modern Ireland.

“Every day we are hearing stories of people struggling to rent or buy a house, or sadly being forced onto the streets, and with every few months that pass, another housing report comes out revealing that rents are continuing to rise.

“Enough is enough- the Irish people deserve better,and in the short term, there are a number of ways Minister Murphy can immediately address this crisis.

“Firstly, it is incumbent on the new Minister to ensure that all families are out of hotels as a form of emergency accommodation by July, as was promised by Minister Coveney.

“I also recently published legislation that aims to ensure the best interests of homeless children are recognised by Local Authorities in an emergency situation, which I hope the Minister will take on board.

“We are still yet to see details of an audit into vacant houses around the country. We know that there are around 200,000 homes currently lying empty, and there is no reason these should not be tapped as a quick and relatively simple way of alleviating the crisis in the short-term.

“With the vacant site levy due to come into effect next year, I believe it is also time to explore a vacant homes tax for those homes not in use for long periods of time to speed up their being brought back into use.

“I also support calls from the Peter McVerry Trust to put Vacant Homes Officers in place in each of the local authorities, to go out and assess these vacant properties and then go about acquiring them. This has proven a success in the UK and there’s no reason the system couldn’t work here.

“Finally, I wish the Minister well in his new role- he has been given a clean slate to really get to grips with the housing and homelessness crisis and effect positive change in this regard.”

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