Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher says the Government must start prioritising vacant properties as a means of easing the homelessness and housing crisis. According to the latest CSO figures for 2016, there are 9,476 vacant units across Cavan and Monaghan, while data from the Department of Housing reveals that there were 121 homeless adults and 16 homeless families accessing services in the North East during one specific week in January.
Senator Gallagher commented, “The homelessness and housing crisis has been steadily increasing over the past number of years under Fine Gael and the Government has failed to get a proper handle on the problem. Instead of tackling one issue, a multi-faceted approach must be adopted to effectively deal with the crisis.
“This Government has failed to utilise vacant housing projects as part of an overall plan to increase housing supply and reduce the number of people in emergency accommodation. Minister Simon Coveney must now look at how best to upgrade or refurbish these units in order to return them to the market and increase supply.
“Figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal that there are 6,162 vacant units in Cavan, with another 3,314 in Monaghan. With rents in the region increasing by over 13% in the past year, increased supply is key to ensuring affordable rental properties are available for families across the two counties.
“Fianna Fáil has proposed the introduction of an Empty Property Grant Scheme to encourage landlords or property owners to lease units to Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) or to provide long-term leases to tenants nominated by Local Authorities. This would see these landlords compensated for the full or partial costs of refurbishment by the AHB or the Local Authority. Similar schemes have been brought in in the UK to deal with high vacancy rates and a pilot scheme should be considered for Ireland to tackle the high vacancy rates here in Monaghan, and around the country”, Senator Gallagher concluded.