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Government failing to tackle scourge of vacant homes - Eoin Ó Broin TD

14 December, 2021 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has criticised the government for failing to tackle the scourge of vacant homes across the state.

The Oireachtas Housing Committee today heard important contributions on the issue from Dr Frank O’Connor and Jude Sherry of the Anois campaign, and Orla Murphy from UCD.

Speaking at the Committee hearing, Teachta Ó Broin said:

“Allowing homes to remain vacant in the middle of a housing crisis is like hoarding food during a famine. It is simply unacceptable. Neither this government nor the last are serious about delivering on this matter.

“The previous government had a vacant homes strategy that was an abject failure. Schemes were established that failed to meet their targets and failed to return enough vacant homes to use.

"For example, the Repair and Lease scheme had a target of returning 3,500 vacant homes back into use by 2020. Only 273 homes were delivered via this scheme, just 8% of the overall target.

"While no targets were set for the Buy and Renew scheme, just 670 homes have been delivered over five years. This is hard to understand.

“The current government has also failed to tackle the vacant homes issue and is continuing with the same poorly resourced schemes, which aim to return 2,500 vacant homes to use by 2026. That is just 500 a year.

“It is clear from what we heard today at the Housing Committee that the problem is not primarily at the local authority level.

"Neither this government nor the last had a sense of the real level of vacancy out there and failed to put together an effective policy and funding plan to tackle the issue.

“The GeoDirectories has confirmed that there are 92,000 vacant homes across the state. Returning even a fraction of these homes back into use via a scheme like Buy and Renew is cheaper, quicker, more environmentally sustainable and leads to good placemaking.

“To achieve this, we need accurate data on dereliction, and we need to see a dedicated vacant homes officer in each local authority, with specific targets to return a set number of vacant homes into use.

“We also need to see up to 20% of all publicly funded social and affordable homes to be delivered from existing derelict and vacant stock."

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