herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Dublin lags behind as just seven vacant home owners apply for grant

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy attending a housing summit earlier this month
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy attending a housing summit earlier this month

A scheme designed to bring thousands of homes back into use has fallen short of its targets - with Dublin lagging behind most parts of the country.

Under the Government's Repair and Lease Scheme, owners of vacant properties are paid up to €30,000 to bring the properties up to standard so they can be rented out to social housing tenants or families in need of State support.

The scheme was pitched as an essential element of the Government's plan to tackle the homelessness crisis.

But new figures supplied to the Herald show that just 102 units have been deemed suitable for social housing since March - despite the Government committing to implement 800 by the end of the year.

Just seven of these properties are in the capital, according to information obtained by John Curran, chairman of the Oireachtas Housing Committee.

Committed

Not a single unit has been earmarked for the catchments of South Dublin or Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Mr Curran, a Fianna Fail TD for Dublin Mid West, strongly criticised what he said represents a "failure" on behalf of the Government to meet its own targets under the scheme.

"Back when the Government's plan, Rebuilding Ireland, was launched, then minister Simon Coveney committed to a target of bringing 800 vacant units back into the market by 2017 and 1,600 by the year 2020. It is wholly apparent that these are impossible targets given the current rate of slow pace," Mr Curran told the Herald.

"It is estimated that while in the midst of the current housing and homelessness crisis, there is somewhere in the region of 200,000 vacant properties nationwide and over 40,000 in greater Dublin alone. An agreement to lease has been signed in the case of eight units across the entire country while only seven have been identified as suitable in the Dublin region," he added.

In response, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said local authorities have received applications for 535 units to be included in the scheme for the first three months of the year.

But he said feedback received from local authorities suggests that many properties are not suitable for the scheme itself.

"I am examining all opportunities to accelerate and improve both social housing delivery as well as initiatives to bring more vacant houses back into use at a faster pace. I am currently finalising the outcomes of that review," Mr Murphy said.

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