A "root and branch" examination of the "scandalous" situation of why more than 17,500 homes in the county are vacant at a time of soaring demand for rental accommodation is being demanded by a Galway TD.
According to Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, around one in every seven Galway houses are unoccupied, with a vacancy rate of 17.7 per cent in the county, and 10.5 per cent in the city. He said the high number of empty dwellings, "was even more significant" in the light of the Census 2016 figures which indicated the number of new homes provided since the 2011 Census "fell well short of what the rise in population demanded".
This week saw the Government announce plans to tackle the housing crises, with increased house building, but the Carnmore TD said "it would be a long time before supply would ever catch up with demand", and that other ideas should be explored.
Dep Grealish said that of the +17,000 vacant homes, 4,000 are holiday homes, but the rest are empty due to having "fallen slightly into disrepair" and which could be "done up at a relatively low cost". According to the latest census figures, in the county this breaks down as 13,960 vacant houses, of which 10,279 are not holiday homes; and as 3,671 vacant homes in the city, with 3,375 of them not holiday homes.
He is calling for the introduction of a scheme offering grants of up to €20,000 to be put in place to bring them to as standard. The homes would remain in the hands of their owners, who would commit to renting them for allocation to people on the waiting list for a certain number of years.
"It could take a lot of people off the housing waiting lists and it would also stop a lot of these houses from going totally derelict," he said. "It will ease some of the pressure on the private accommodation rental market."