"Only 392 Homeowners Apply for Vacant Properties Refurbishment Grant - Government Need to Broaden the Criteria" - Tóibín
According to data released to the Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD, some 392 applications have been made for the Vacant Properties Refurbishment Grant. Speaking today, the Meath West TD said that the scheme should be extended to include all homeowners and must include local authorities.
Deputy Tóibín said: "Aontú has been campaigning to bring vacant properties back into the market for some time now. It is ridiculous that while we have over 10,000 people homeless in the State, there are over 160,000 vacant properties here too. When we look at the 2022 census findings and compare them with the 2016 census, we see that roughly 50,000 properties have remained vacant over those six years! This is a national scandal! News from the Minister for Housing that there have been less than 400 grant applications to refurbish vacant properties is very disappointing. Its hardly a drop in the ocean when it comes to fixing this housing crisis".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "The grant is very flawed - in that, according to the Minister's reply to Aontú, the grant appears to be only for people who own a vacant property which they intend to make their "principal primary residence". This means that homeowners cannot use the grant to help bring their property back into the rental market where we currently see a large demand and very low supply".
"The grant is being run through local authorities which is extraordinary given that many local authorities up and down the country are themselves the biggest culprits when it comes to the hoarding of vacant properties. The funding from central government for this scheme should be increased and provisions made so that local authorities can tap into the funding themselves so as to bring council-owned vacant properties back into use. There are tens of thousands of people currently on the housing waiting list in this country, and thousands of vacant properties which are currently owned by the State. People are sleeping on the streets, homeless hostels in many areas are full to capacity, and yet local authorities are sitting on vacant properties - it's unforgiveable!", concluded Deputy Tóibín.