Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy says that the refurbishment of vacant Roscommon Council Housing “needs to be ramped up”.
The call comes following the release of new figures which reveal that Counties Roscommon and Leitrim have some of the highest percentages of vacant social housing units nationwide. Fianna Fail obtained the figures through a series of Freedom of Information requests made to each local authority. The information shows that there are over 2,751 vacant units across the country in council ownership.
“The figures show that refurbishment of vacant Roscommon Council Housing needs to be ramped up. The figures obtained by Fianna Fáil show that as of April 2016 there were 92 vacant social houses in County Roscommon while there were 96 in Sligo and a total of 103 in County Longford.” In percentage terms County Roscommon has 6.79% vacant social housing units as a percentage of the overall housing stock while Sligo has 4.59% while Longford has a rate of 5.44%.
Eugene Murphy TD commented “It is unacceptable that there are still such a high number of vacant housing units owned by Local Authorities which are not in use. We are all too familiar with the escalating social housing waiting lists and emergency homeless shelters are running out of space to accommodate people. Unfortunately homelessness is not just an issue in urban centres such as Dublin but it is very much a reality for many individuals and families in the Roscommon and Galway areas.”
“These figures make it apparent just how completely inadequate the refurbishment funding allocated to local authorities has been. The previous Minister Alan Kelly made the disastrous decision to cut refurbishment funding available to local authorities despite the fact that 2,612 housing units are lying vacant. The cut amounted to a €7m in 2015. The Budget for 2016 has not been finalised for each local authority, but Fianna Fáil is seeking a significant increase.
“It just doesn’t make sense to have so many properties lying vacant while spending such huge sums of money fire-fighting the crisis through the provision of emergency homeless accommodation. This money could have been much more productively used to provide long term homes for these families by refurbishing the vacant units already in the ownership of local authorities.
“Fianna Fáil has been active in ensuring that the senseless €30,000 funding cap for renovating vacant units, which was imposed by the previous Government, is removed. We are monitoring the situation on the ground to guarantee that these houses are put back into productive use as soon as possible,” said Deputy Murphy.
Overall Housing vacancy rate well above average
Deputy Murphy also pointed out that the latest Census 2016 results also showed that County Roscommon has an overall housing vacancy rate of 21.6% which accounts for a total of 6,822 vacant dwellings which is well above the national average vacancy rate of 12.8%. Deputy Murphy also pointed out that County Roscommon only showed a population growth rate of 0.6% with a net migration of minus -1,271 people. “These figures would indicate that a large number of people are still moving away from County Roscommon presumably for employment opportunities elsewhere which indicates that the county is still not experiencing the same green shoots of recovery which is being felt in more urban areas,” said Eugene Murphy.