At least 1,400 vacant social houses are to be returned to productive use by the end of the year for homeless households and families on housing waiting lists, writes Stephen Rogers and Eoin English.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney will today confirm €24m will be spent on the scheme, which is part of the Government’s Vacant Properties (voids) programme. A breakdown of the locations of the properties shows that, for example, 112 in Cork city and county are to be returned to use at a cost of almost €2.2m, while in Dublin 539 units will be upgraded at a cost of €10.6m.
Mr Coveney’s department said the priority of the scheme is to rehouse homeless families to the fullest extent possible in homes that have been restored to an energy-efficient condition.
A department spokesperson said that, since the introduction of the scheme in 2014, approximately €85m of funding has resulted in over 7,200 properties being returned to productive use. Local authorities must submit a prioritised list of properties for remediation. The maximum funding of €30,000 per dwelling is being applied in 2017, as it was in 2014-2016.
Meanwhile, a trade union initiative being piloted in Cork has called for a semi-State-style housing authority to tackle the housing crisis. ONE Cork, which was developed between the Cork Council of Trade Unions and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, represents 60,000 members of up to 20 affiliated trade unions in the city and county. It said a municipal housing authority should be set up across the two Cork local authorities, through which a building programme can be developed, funded, and maintained.
It said that the State’s reliance on the private market to resolve the housing crisis is not working and there is enough publicly-owned and zoned land in Cork to provide up to 3,000 housing units.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.