The allocation of more than €750,000 to bring back to use 53 vacant houses to provide quality homes for families across Galway has been broadly welcomed, but a number of public representatives are calling on the Government to do more to address the growing housing crisis.
The Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan, announced an allocation of €15 million to bring back into use 1,008 vacant local authority units. An allocation of €243,000 has been given to Galway city to return 21 vacant houses back to use with the average cost per unit of €11,571. Galway county was given an allocation of €515,000 for 32 units, an average cost per unit of €16,094. The funding is part of a year-long campaign that will see €30 million invested nationally and nearly 2,000 vacant houses returned to beneficial use.
Minister O’Sullivan said it was expected these refurbished homes will be tenanted in the coming months and a report would be issued on completions and tenancies by October’s end. The investment is also intended to create jobs in the construction sector, and local authorities have been encouraged to examine the role that community based organisations which recruit, train, and engage long-term unemployed people can play in the refurbishment programme.
Although welcoming the announcement Labour TD for Galway West, Derek Nolan, said the project must continue until every vacant housing unit in Galway was made available for local families’ use.
Tiny drop in housing crisis
Deputy Nolan said it would be a year-long campaign that would see over 50 vacant units across Galway refurbished and made available for families in Galway who are currently seeking a local authority house.
“ Having worked closely with the Minister on this issue, I am pleased to see that the announcement will have a real impact for families in Galway.”
This announcement comes just a few weeks after a report on the housing situation in Galway city revealed there are now 3,597 households on the waiting list which equates to 10,000 people languishing on the list for periods of up to 12 years.
A long-time campaigner for housing, Independent Catherine Connolly, said she welcomed any initiative that would improve the situation, but it was a “tiny drop in the overall housing crisis”.
“In the overall scheme of things we need more. There are vacant properties throughout the city. There has been some improvement, but this has been the result of pressure from councillors. Unfortunately it has been taken seriously when the crisis is at its worse,” said Cllr Connolly, who added that issues with housing staff needed to be addressed so that empty houses could be habitable for new tenants as soon as possible.