Sinn Féin calls for compulsory purchase orders or a charge on Ireland's 230,000 vacant homes

There are almost 6,000 homeless people in Ireland, including 2,000 children.

The Government is being urged to create a vacant homes tax to help tackle the huge problem of homelessness.

At the latest count by the Department of the Environment, there are almost 6,000 homeless people in Ireland, including 2,000 children.

The most recent figures for homeless children in Dublin – for March 21-27 – showed there were 1,723 in 839 families.

During the night of the most recent rough-sleeper count, meanwhile, on April 24th, at least 102 people were sleeping on the capital’s streets. All emergency beds were full on the night.

New Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has described the crisis as a 'national emergency'.

Yet a recent Housing Agency report for the Government put the number of vacant homes across the state as high as 230,056, and included a vacant home tax among its recommendations.

Sinn Fein spokesman Eoin Ó Broin is calling on Minister Simon Coveney to take action immediately.

"There may be as many as 230,000 vacant homes across the state. In parts of Dublin, 255 of the stock could be vacant.

"The housing agency who produced the report have recommended a number of options to the Government, including a vacant homes tax, but there's also the possibility of compulsory purchase orders, to get these homes back into stock."

 

"There are up to 130,000 households on local authority housing waiting lists. Rents and house prices are spiralling out of control.

“It is simply not acceptable for Government to sit on its hands and do nothing about vacant properties when so many families are in severe housing need. I will be writing to Ministers Coveney and Noonan this week asking them to outline their plans in response to the Housing Agency report.

"We have been told repeatedly by Government that the central cause of this housing crisis is an under supply of housing, particularly private housing.

"And yet the Housing Agency have prepared a report for Government detailing up to 230,056 vacant houses across the state. These figures do not include holiday homes.

"In Dublin there are 7,995 vacant houses and 16,321 vacant apartments. Yet rough sleeping is on the rise. 

"In parts of Dublin, Cork and Galway city, the vacancy rate is as high as 25%, ten times higher than the international average.

“The Housing Agency Report outlines various options used in other countries to reduce vacancy rates including a vacant home tax. In addition to exploring these options Government must also consider the purchase of these units by Local Authorities, using Compulsory Purchase Orders if necessary."