Fianna Fáil TD in Dublin Mid-West and Chair of the Committee for Housing and Homelessness, John Curran has the Government needs to prioritise refurbishing vacant units to boost the supply of available accommodation to help tackle the homeless crisis.

Speaking in the Dáil on the issue earlier this week Deputy Curran said, “From my work as Chair of the Committee for Housing and Homelessness I understand that it takes time to build new the homes required to make a significant impact on alleviating the current high demand.

“It is very clear from the Minister’s programme that it will be several years before significant numbers of properties will be complete and ready for occupation, yet every month we see figures for homelessness continue to increase. The number of homeless people in Dublin rose to almost 6,000 last month.

“Data from the 2016 Census shows that are almost 260,000 homes vacant right across the country. This figure does not account for the countless vacant spaces above premises and shops across the Capital, which demonstrates the sheer dysfunctionality of our housing market.

“Fianna Fáil have proposed the introduction of an Empty Property Grant Scheme to encourage owners to lease properties to Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) or rent directly to tenants nominated by Local Authorities on long-term leases. In return AHB’s and Local Authorities would refinance the full or partial costs of refurbishment. Similar schemes exist in the United Kingdom and could be introduced on a pilot basis in local authorities which have high vacancy rates.

“It’s only logical that measures are introduced to get vacant properties that are laying empty at the moment, back into the system and put long-term leases in place to provide extra social housing nationwide.

“The development of new homes alone will not meet the present and increasing demand on housing and should be in tandem with other schemes designed to tackle the housing crisis.

“The Minister has informed me in the Dáil that ambitious targets have been set to quickly increase the number of vacant properties being introduced back into the system. I hope that all additional resources necessary are allocated immediately to meet this new target,” concluded Deputy Curran.