Eugene Murphy says that new figures show that the Department of Housing has failed to approve funding to refurbish approximately 1,449 housing units that are currently vacant.
Deputy Murphy said that new information obtained by Fianna Fáil through a series of Freedom of Information requests to each Local Authority, shows a lack of progress in refurbishing vacant social housing units.
“The latest figures show that there are approximately 2,751 housing units still vacant throughout the country. The Department of Housing has informed us that it has approved funding to refurbish 1,302 vacant housing units which is less than half of the vacant units identified to date. This means that there are approximately 1,449 vacant housing units that are yet to be allocated refurbishment funding.
In County Roscommon the figures show that there were 92 vacant properties recorded by the Local Authority in March/April 2016 and while it must be welcomed that 65 units were approved for funding in July 2016 it is still important to point out that some 27 vacant properties in County Roscommon were not approved for funding.
“In neighbouring County Leitrim the figures show that less than half of the vacant housing units were approved for funding with only 29 units out of 70 vacant units having been approved for funding with some 41 vacant houses still left inhabitable. In Galway city the situation is even worse with only a quarter of all vacant housing units having been approved for funding- figures show that only 15 units out of 60 vacant properties will be refurbished leaving some 45 units not having been approved for funding which is totally unacceptable in the midst of a homelessness crisis. Many of these units could be turned around quickly with a clearer strategy and direction from the Minister,” said Deputy Murphy.
Deputy Murphy also pointed out that of the total of 2,696 units completed nationally in 2015 only 36 housing units or 1.3% were completed in County Roscommon while County Leitrim only had nine completed units for the same time period which represents a mere 0.33% of the overall national figure.
The Fianna Fail Deputy said that it is also important to note that the Department of Housing is actually spending €9m less on refurbishing vacant properties as compared to 2015, despite the existence of so many vacant units.
“The Department needs to wake up and get all these units back to use as a matter of urgency. Refurbishing vacant units will provide much needed housing while we await the construction of new builds,” concluded Eugene Murphy.