Nearly 5,000 homes in Dublin lie vacant as 1,347 families living in homelessness
- Labour launch national vacancy and dereliction campaign
The Labour Party has today, Thursday 28th September, launched its national vacancy and dereliction campaign ahead of the publication of the latest homeless figures from the Department of Housing tomorrow.
Speaking at the launch, Labour leader and housing spokesperson Ivana Bacik said the lack of urgency from Government in tackling vacancy and dereliction is baffling.
Deputy Bacik said:
“Tomorrow the Government will publish the latest homelessness figures. To have one single person living in homelessness is outrageous, but it’s scandalous that Government seems to have conceded that 12,837 people is an acceptable figure.
“It’s particularly galling for people given the huge amount of vacant and derelict homes nationwide.
“It’s obvious to anyone who walks through the city – apartment blocks lie empty with the wrapping still on mattresses, boarded up houses which could become homes for those who so desperately need it. It’s certainly not unique to the Capital either – vacancy and dereliction is a national scandal.
“While official figures understate the true scale of the problem, we know that nearly 200,000 homes lie vacant or derelict at any one time here in Ireland. A scandalous 37,000 homes have lain vacant since 2016. Imagine if Government actually put some focus into bringing these properties back onto the market as homes?
“As in many aspects of this Government’s record on housing, the approach to vacancy and dereliction has been abysmal. It has been marked by short-termism and not delivery.
“The Government has implemented a vacant homes tax of three times the Local Property Tax of the property, but the tax does not go far enough to disincentivise vacancy. For bigger companies who are speculating on property, simple taxation may not be enough to prevent them from keeping property vacant.
“Labour is holding a Day of Action this Saturday (September 30th) to raise awareness of vacant and derelict properties at a local level and to urge Government to tackle this blight on our society in next month’s Budget.
“No politician should have to be reminded about the issue of homelessness when we see the numbers of persons huddling in porches and alleys in the surrounds of Leinster House. The reckless decision to lift the eviction ban has compounded this. We need a sense of urgency on housing from Budget 2024.
“If there’s been a consistent theme as to how Fianna Fáil have managed the Housing Department in recent years it’s this: focusing on sorting out the developers; concerning themselves with tax breaks for landlords; ignoring the growing systemic problem of homelessness; actively ignoring the huge numbers of empty homes nationwide.
“We are in the grips of the worst housing crisis in living memory. Where is the urgency to tackle this and to bring these vacant and derelict sites back into use for people and families?
“Land is a finite resource. Properties which are left vacant for a prolonged period should be compulsorily purchased and local authorities should be resourced to do so.
“Moreover, the State should leverage the institutional knowledge it has through the likes of An Post and auctioneers to ensure that the vacant and derelict sites registers are up to date. That’s what Labour is trying to do – we are compiling a national database of vacant and derelict sites nationwide.
“Sites cannot be allowed to stay empty, particularly when their owners allow that state of affairs to continue so that they can speculate on the value of their property.
“There needs to be a step-change in housing provision. Our population is growing but housing supply does not even meet current need. Tackling vacancy and dereliction is key to making sure that everyone has a home. Only ideology – not the economy – is holding us back.”