An agreement with NAMA on the use of vacant properties could help radically reduce social housing waiting lists and the soaring demand for rent allowance, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen.
Deputy Cowen has called on the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and the Minister for Housing Willie Penrose to engage with NAMA on cost effective ways to help people on rent allowance schemes and waiting lists for social housing.
Deputy Cowen said: “There are now almost 100,000 families in receipt of rent allowance and over €500 million has been made available for rent supplement this year, despite a reduction of almost 50% in rent costs since the peak in 2007.
“It is quite clear the there is still a growing need for housing assistance and I believe we need to look at more efficient ways to help these families. It seems obvious to me that with NAMA at the Government’s disposal, we should be setting up more social housing programmes. We appear to be missing a real opportunity here, given that the latest figures from the National Housing Survey shows that there are currently 19,000 new and completed houses in this country that have never been lived in.
“This is a simple case of putting two and two together. We have thousands of people in need of homes, and thousands of houses just sitting there vacant. There is an opportunity for NAMA to pay a social dividend if the Government leads the way.
“Minister Joan Burton has told me that her colleague Minister of State Willie Penrose is actively considering this possibility. I am urging them to come up with proposals ahead of December’s Budget, so that a more efficient system can be implemented next year.”