Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Mid-West and Chair of the Oireachtas Housing and Homelessness Committee John Curran says new figures reveal that there are still a large number of vacant social housing units nationwide.
Fianna Fáil obtained the figures through a series of Freedom of Information requests made to each local authority. The information shows that there are over 2,751 vacant units across the country in council ownership.
“It’s unacceptable that there are still such a high number of vacant housing units owned by Local Authorities which are not in use. This is at a time when social housing waiting lists are at historic highs and emergency homeless shelters are running out of space to accommodate the escalating crisis,” said Deputy Curran.
“In my own constituency of Dublin Mid-West, under South Dublin County Council, as of April 2016 there were 43 vacant units, which is 0.48% of their housing stock; this compares very favourably to the figures for other local authorities which are up to 7.29%.
“The figures show that refurbishment of vacant social homes by Local Authorities needs to be ramped up. The figures obtained by Fianna Fáil show that as of April there are 372 vacant housing units in Dublin City alone. This is despite growing rates of homelessness in our capital city. Other Local Authorities with a large number of vacant housing units include Cork City (361), Cork County (256), Kerry (173), Donegal (149), Tipperary (121) and Longford (103).
“These figures make it apparent just how completely inadequate the refurbishment funding allocated to local authorities has been. The previous Minister Alan Kelly made the disastrous decision to cut refurbishment funding available to local authorities despite the fact that 2,612 housing units are lying vacant. The cut amounted to €7m in 2015. The Budget for 2016 has not been finalised for each local authority, but Fianna Fáil is seeking a significant increase.
“It’s utterly senseless to have so many properties lying vacant while spending such enormous funds fire-fighting the crisis through the provision of emergency homeless accommodation. This money could have been much more productively used to provide long term homes for these families by refurbishing the vacant units already in the ownership of local authorities.
“It’s time to put these vacant homes to use. Fianna Fáil has been active in ensuring that the senseless €30,000 funding cap for renovating vacant units, which was imposed by the previous Government, is removed. We are monitoring the situation on the ground to guarantee that these houses are put back into productive use as soon as possible,” said Deputy Curran.