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Activists highlight government’s failure to tackle the homeless, rental, and vacant homes crisis – Ó Broin

8 August, 2018 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has credited the housing activists who have highlighted the government’s “abject failure” to tackle the housing crisis by occupying a vacant home in Dublin city. 

Deputy Ó Broin said

“For years, activists, housing experts, and opposition parties have been pushing the government to take decisive action on turning around vacant homes. 

“The schemes the government has introduced including, repair and lease, buy and renew and the Housing Agency fund are underfunded and the targets are far too low. 

“Only 70 homes were delivered under Buy & Renew in 2017. 

“Only nine homes were delivered and tenanted via three local authorities under Repair and Lease in 2017.

“Only 382 homes acquired by the Housing Agency out of 1,800 offered.

“The government should aim to return to active use a minimum of 20% of the current vacant stock (36,000 units) over six years delivering an average of 6000 units per year. 

“Sinn Féin published a Vacant Homes strategy last summer that contained a number of key recommendations that if implemented would help return vacant homes back to use. 

“Local councils need ambitious targets coupled with adequate funding to bring vacant homes back into use including greater use of CPOs if necessary.

“Every local authority should have a dedicated vacant homes officer and should have a register of properties that have been vacant for six months or more.

“To help tackle the long term council voids, the government should prioritise the implementation of Choice Based Letting in all local authorities to ensure that all short term voids are tenanted as speedily as possible.

“Sinn Féin is of the view that maximising the return of vacant homes to use requires incentives for those who need assistance to return their properties to active use and penalties for those who wilfully leave vacant properties empty.

“The government should introduce a vacant homes tax aimed at properties vacant more than six months within DED’s or LEA’s determined by the Local Authorities as having a high level of housing need and a high level of vacancy. Exemptions would be applied to certain categories of homes including homes in probate or in the fair deal scheme.

“The government’s vacant homes strategy is not ambitious enough and contains mostly measures that have already been announced. 

“Bringing more vacant homes back into use seems like an obvious solution given the delays in planning and procurement facing the construction of new units. The government must do more.” 

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