40,000 vacant residential units in Dublin City

There are 40,000 vacant residential units in Dublin city centre, according to a town planning expert.

Phillip Crowe, director of Space Engagers, said the estimate of vacant houses or apartments in the city “is equivalent to the entire housing stock of Galway City”.

“So there’s plenty of them,” he said.

Space Engagers, with which housing charity the Peter McVerry Trust has partnered, is a non-profit platform that allows citizens to map Ireland.

Yesterday, the housing charity launched a drive looking to buy or lease empty homes in order to allow people to exit homelessness.

The charity is targetting residential properties that have been empty or derelict for approximately one year.

Property owners will be offered grants of up to €40,000 per unit to get the properties back into use.

Depending on the grant value, once the properties are renovated they will be leased out for either 10-, 15-, or 20-year periods.

The initiative is being funded by two new Government programmes: The repair and leasing scheme and the buy and renew scheme.

The properties, where the renovation and tenancies will be managed by the Peter McVerry Trust and the State, will guarantee rental income for the duration of the lease.

Another idea being tabled by the trust in order to address the housing crisis is the “over-the-shop” residential unit.

Former senator Lorraine Higgins, the deputy chief executive of Retail Excellence, spoke at the launch of the trust’s vacant property drive yesterday.

“What the living-over-the-shop scheme is all about is providing tax incentives, to provide tax solutions to retailers or other people who own properties to ensure that those properties that they have, or those units over their retail premises, can be used as rented accommodation.

“There are thousands and thousands of properties throughout the country in such a situation. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer that this action is taken,” said Ms Higgins.

Francis Doherty of the Peter McVerry Trust said the charity was hopeful the Government would take this action.

“When you talk of the over-the-shop idea, it’s one we hope to see the Government move on very quickly.

“We know there is a great degree of urgency in the delivery of housing for all sectors of society,” he said.

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