Vacant homes must be used to help ease housing crisis, says McNelis

The Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, has “finally woken up to the fact there are nearly 200,000 empty homes across the country” and that could be used to ease the pressure of the State’s housing crisis.

This is the view of Labour Galway City West councillor Niall McNelis, a member of City Hall’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee, who has welcomed confirmation that the Government will “finally be introducing measures to bring vacant homes back into use”. However the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, has yet to publish the Vacant Homes Strategy.

The confirmation comes as the latest census data reveals there were 896 families with 1,720 children classified as homeless on Census Night last year.

Cllr McNelis said he supports the call by the Peter McVerry Trust, that each county and city council appoint vacant homes officers to inspect properties, and assess why these vacant properties are being left vacant and to proactively work to have them occupied again. He also wants Minister Murphy to introduce a vacant property tax, which he said is “the most effective tool to bring properties that have been empty for a long period of time back on stream”.

“I look forward to a full suite of measures being introduced following the publication of the Vacant Homes Strategy we were promised in July 2016,” said the Labour councillor. “This is hopefully the first step in easing the crisis, empty properties cannot be tolerated when so many are without a home.”

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