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Government only purchases 23% of properties offered by state-owned banks – Ó Broin

18 July, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has criticised the government for failing to target enough turnkey homes offered by the banks to the Government for purchase.

Last week, the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy confirmed in response to a parliamentary question that of the 1,114 vacant properties held by three banks, PTSB, Bank of Ireland, and AIB, to date 259 property purchases have been closed. 

Commenting on the information today, Deputy Ó Broin said

“The government is clearly failing to grasp the seriousness of the family homelessness crisis. At a time when 1,312 families are living in emergency accommodation, it is a scandal that the government has not secured more of these properties.

“By failing to purchase not even a quarter of the properties offered to it at a discount by publicly funded banks, the government is effectively disregarding the urgency of this crisis. 

“Late last year, the government was aware how many of these homes were available and still only provided the Housing Agency with €70m in funding to purchase these properties. While I am sure some of these properties are not suitable for social housing purchases, it is hard to believe that only 23% of them are. 

“As of the end of June 2017, the PQ response stated that the Housing Agency has signed contracts for 362 dwellings and they have bids on for a further 100 homes. This combined is still less than half of what the government was offered.

“The lack of action by the government shows how it is not treating the family homelessness crisis with the urgency it deserves. With over 1000 families homeless, acquiring these discounted houses is the quickest way of putting a permanent roof over their heads.” 

Note: Please see below the PQ in question

QUESTION NO:  811

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy)
by Deputy Eoin Ó Broin
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 11/07/2017  

To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning; Community and Local Government the amount of the €70 million allocated by his department in 2017 for the housing agency fund to purchase vacant houses which has been drawn down to date; the number of units which have been purchased with this fund to date; the number of these units which have been sold onto local authorities and or approved housing bodies; and the average cost per unit of the units purchased to date.
  
REPLY.
Under Actions 1.1, 2.5 and 5.6 of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, the Housing Agency is actively engaged with banks and investment companies in relation to its acquisitions programme.  The Agency has been tasked with establishing a revolving fund to acquire some 1,600 units over the period to 2020 for social housing use.  

In accordance with the Agency’s profile of expenditure and the arrangements in place between my Department and the Agency for the management of the Fund, €70 million has now been drawn down.  As of 30 June 2017, the Agency had signed contracts for 362 dwellings and 259 of these purchases have closed.  In addition, the Agency has had bids accepted by vendors on a further 100 dwellings.  

The process of selling properties on to Approved Housing Bodies is underway. As of 30 June 2017, the Agency had signed purchase option agreements for 242 properties with Approved Housing Bodies, with the closure of these approved sales, and the consequent replenishment of the Acquisition Fund, expected to commence in September.

The average cost per unit of the units purchased to date is approximately €166,500. 

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