herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Fury at 774 homes lying empty as families ignored

ALMOST 800 houses are standing empty in the city even though thousands are crying out for accommodation.

The situation has been described as "an embarrassment" by one councillor, who has demanded the city manager take immediate action.

Figures released to the Herald by Dublin City Council show that the authority has 774 vacant properties in its possession. Cash-strapped councils across the country are struggling to cope with the huge demand for social housing and calls have already been made for them to secure the use of some privately-owned ghost estates.

In Dublin city alone there are 6,108 people on the council's housing list, although a spokesperson was keen to stress that not all of these would suit the specifications or locations of the 774 vacant properties.

However, the amount of unused housing stock in the capital has shocked councillors.

"It's the first time in a long time that I've seen councillors so outraged about something. It's absolutely appalling," Cllr Christy Burke told the Herald.

The Department of Environment recently sanctioned a €7m refurbishment grant to be used to renovate the social houses in Dublin city.

The empty properties include a selection of apartments, flats and houses on the north and south side of the city.

Overall the council has a stock of 27,000 homes, which are generally rented out to individuals or families with financial difficulties at a reduced rate.

Recession

A spokesperson said: "Council properties that become vacant remain so for an average of 22 weeks.

"In this time frame departing tenants can clear all their belongings and the council can carry out inspections and any necessary works and ultimately reallocate the property."

However, Cllr Burke fumed: "You could paint the Taj Mahal in that time. I can show you places that are idle for five or six months. You'd have a house built in that time."

The numbers waiting for social housing has grown substantially since the onset of the recession. The Government has already told councils to make use of long-term leasing of private housing as an alternative to the social housing construction programme (SHCP).

"You are dealing with human beings who don't have homes. These people are less fortunate than most," said Cllr Burke.

The city council is preparing to start spending the €7m received for maintenance works on the vacant properties.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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