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692 Vacant Social Housing Units in Cork
Last updated on 07 Dec, 2015
I am shocked at the policy being pursued by the Department of Environment on funding vacant social housing and refurbishment in Local Authorities. We have recently received figures through a Freedom of Information request which shows over 3,000 housing units are lying vacant across Ireland despite the housing emergency.
The largest number of vacant properties is in Cork where 692 housing units are lying idle at a time when we have an escalating housing crisis. These figures are truly shocking and demonstrate just how dysfunctional Government policy is in relation to housing.
The figures show that there are 424 vacant housing units in Cork City and 268 vacant housing units in Cork County respectively. People in areas such as Passage West, Douglas and Mahon are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable accommodation. It makes no sense for these housing units to remain empty given the fact that more and more families in our community are being forced to live in emergency accommodation.
These housing units should be refurbished immediately to help provide accommodation for families. However the Government is making it impossible for local authorities to do this as they are consistently targeting the refurbishment budget for savings. In 2015 the Government slashed the refurbishment budget by €6 million nationally.
Minister Kelly has claimed that he is encouraging local authorities to bring vacant units back up to standard. However information revealed to my colleague Barry Cowen TD in the Dáil shows that Minister Kelly has capped the refurbishment and renovation programme at €30,000 per unit.
The Minister is willing to commit €100,000 to build a single temporary modular housing unit, but will not allow the refurbishment of a permanent housing unit if it costs above €30,000. This is a short-sighted policy to pursue at the height of a housing crisis and will do little to help the thousands of families on social housing waiting lists.
The Government needs to stop making big-bang PR announcements and engage in the hard slog of sensible policy-making to provide homes for homeless or at risk households.