The homelessness charity Peter McVerry Trust has called on local authorities to take urgent action to reduce the number of vacant homes across Ireland.
Its plea follows the release of census data by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed that there are almost 200,000 unoccupied dwellings in the State. This is before holiday homes and temporarily uninhabited households are taken into account, and the charity said that the figures were “unacceptable”.
The number of occupied households in Ireland actually rose by three per cent, while the number of vacant dwellings excluding holiday and temporarily empty homes decreased by 13.8 per cent.
However, 13 per cent of homes across the country remain unoccupied – ranging from four per cent in South Dublin to 30 per cent in Leitrim.
In December 2015 there were more than 5,200 people sleeping rough in Ireland, while the Department of Education’s May 2016 report stated that close to 4,000 adults were in some form of emergency accommodation.
“The figures released by the CSO show that the number of vacant properties is unacceptably high.
“The level of vacant housing units underlines just how dysfunctional our housing system has become.
“In Dublin, we have around 4,000 individuals in homelessness yet the figures out today show over 36,000 vacant units across the region,” Francis Doherty, Head of Communications at Peter McVerry Trust, said.
“We must see an equally aggressive approach taken by local authorities to reduce the number of privately owned vacant housing units.
“The new Housing Action Plan needs to clearly set out a range of actions to help local authorities drastically reduce the number of vacant properties.”
Meanwhile the Labour Party’s Willie Penrose suggested that a grant scheme for renovating these vacant properties could go some way towards solving Ireland’s housing crisis. He said it would help people who have inherited a second property but could not afford to do it up.
“It’s time that we looked at bringing back a grant system that would be modified for some people under €35,000 or €40,000, who own those houses, who may not have the money to put in the windows and modify them in such a way,” the Longford-Westmeath TD explained.