O’Sullivan calls for strategy on Vacant Homes

19 January 2018

Labour spokesperson on Housing, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has said that the thousands of vacant homes lying idle around the country remain the low hanging fruit option still underutilised by Government to deal with the housing crisis.

It follows reports the Department of Housing is to make changes to the Repair and Lease scheme, after it was found that no new homes were delivered under the initiative for the first three quarters of 2017.

Deputy O’Sullivan commented:

“The low uptake of the Repair and Lease scheme shows that despite well-placed objectives, the initiative in its current form is not working and needs to be completely revamped, with the recent figures showing that no new properties were actually delivered under the scheme for the first three quarters of last year.

“We have a situation in this country where in the midst of a housing crisis thousands of vacant properties are lying empty, but we have not seen enough urgency from Government on getting these homes back into use.

“In the release of new social housing figures this week there was a noticeable absence of detail of any action taken on the vacant housing front, with just a general reference to ‘voids’ included in the stock brought into use in 2017.

“Ironically, the voids programme is now being touted by the current Government as their big success. I started the scheme in 2014 during a time of severely tight budgets and it has delivered 2,326 newly refurbished homes in 2014, 2,696 in 2015 and 2,090 in 2016.

“It has been said for some time that we need to drill down into the reasons so many properties are empty, but there is still no sign of the Government’s Vacant Homes strategy that was promised last year.

“With nearly 11% of total housing stock vacant here, bringing these homes back into use is the low hanging fruit option still underutilised by Government.

“Making use of existing vacant dwellings can, and must, be a quick win and a real solution for families who have no home or are at risk of losing theirs.”

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