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Vacant homes could help to ease housing crisis- O'Sullivan

11 August 2017

Statement by Jan O'Sullivan TD
Spokesperson on Housing & Local Government, Enterprise & Innovation

As the deadline for public consultation on Rebuilding Ireland passes this afternoon, Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has repeated her call for the Government to consider a vacant tax on properties lying empty for long periods of time.

It follows the latest Census figures showing almost eight thousand people were homeless last year, including nearly 800 children either living on the streets or in emergency accommodation.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“People are quite rightly appalled at the extent of the homelessness crisis which was highlighted by the Census figures yesterday, and in particular, to quote Fergus Finlay on radio this morning, the figures regarding homeless children are ‘beyond shocking’.

“We need action now to get people out of these situations and into suitable housing.

“The Government specifically names ‘utilising existing housing’ as one of its five key pillars of the Rebuilding Ireland plan.

“One obvious way of doing this would be to avail of the nearly 200,000 properties that are lying vacant and unused across the country.

“I’m sure most people could point to several abandoned houses in their areas right now, and are quite rightly wondering how this is the case given the thousands of  people that are homeless.

“It’s time for Government to look at introducing a vacant homes tax to drive owners who leave properties empty for long periods to action, and get these homes back into use ASAP.

“There are schemes in place to support refurbishing and leasing or sale to the Local Authority, but it looks as if they won’t be widely used unless there is a stick as well as a carrot.

“Vacant Homes Officers could be put in place in each of the local authorities to go out and assess these vacant properties and then go about acquiring them, as is the case in the UK.

“Today the period public consultation on Rebuilding Ireland ends and I hope to see swift and concrete measures from Government on resolving this crisis.”