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Ambitious plan needed to make better use of vacant properties – Ó Broin

2 March, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has called for an ambitious vacant homes strategy to be adopted to make better use of nearly 200,000 empty homes across the state. 

Speaking ahead of the launch of the Simon Community ten-point plan aimed at better utilising vacant homes to tackle the housing crisis, Deputy Ó Broin said: 

“We need to have an ambitious plan in place that can facilitate the quick turnaround of the maximum amount of vacant properties. This is an obvious solution to the housing supply crisis we are currently facing.

“While Minister Coveney awaits the publication of his Vacant Homes strategy, he can be more ambitious in the roll out of the Repair and Leasing scheme. At the moment, this scheme will only target 0.4% of the vacant properties out there. This is not enough. 

“The Housing Agency acquisition programme should also be expanded. The Minister must provide more funding so the agency can acquire the 1,000 vacant properties offered to the state by the banks. 

“Sinn Féin agrees with the Simon Community proposal that there should be a greater use of CPOs by local authorities and that a publicly accessible vacant housing register should be established.

“A Housing Agency report, presented to the Dáil Housing and Homeless Committee last year, identified a number of measures to tackle the issue of vacant homes. One of these measures was a vacant homes tax. The Simon Community also support the introduction of a vacant property tax for houses that are empty for more than 12 months. This should also be carefully considered.

“Bringing vacant homes back into use will not only reduce housing list figures. It will go a long way towards reviving local communities, particularly those in rural Ireland. If funding is not an issue, as the Minister is so fond of saying, then his department’s vacant homes strategy must adopt some of the ambitious proposals discussed here today.” 

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