Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (565)

Michael McGrath

Question:

565. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his Department or any agency under the aegis of his Department has conducted an inventory of unoccupied houses and apartments in Dublin and around the country irrespective of who they are owned by; if not, if there are plans to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23114/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Ninth Annual Report on Service Indicators, published by the Local Government Management Agency in March 2014, which details service indicators in local authorities in 2012, provides a range of information in relation to social housing stock including information in relation to vacant dwellings. Copies of the report are available from the Local Government Management Agency and may be downloaded from their website at the following weblink http://www.lgmsb.ie/sites/default/files/service_indicators_2012_report_for_website_0.pdf.

In the context of submissions received from local authorities in respect of my Department’s capital investment programme for returning vacant local authority houses to productive use, authorities have indicated that there currently are some 3,016 vacant properties across all city and county councils. I recently allocated some €15 million for works to refurbish a total of 952 of these vacant properties. Under the recently announced capital supports for the construction sector, my Department will provide a further €20 million for the refurbishment of vacant units in order that these can be made available as quickly as possible to families on the housing waiting lists.

Last week, I published the Implementation Plan on the State's Response to Homelessness in which the Government's objective of ending involuntary long-term homelessness by the end of 2016 was outlined. Returning vacant properties to productive use is an essential component of the plan. A copy of this plan is available on my Department's website,

http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/Housing/SpecialNeeds/HomelessPeople. This plan sets out a range of measures to secure a ring-fenced supply of accommodation to house homeless households within the next three years and mobilise the necessary supports. A number of actions are identified in the plan which will ensure that vacant properties are utilised as soon as possible, that a full inventory of such properties is available as well as having a common approach to the future management of these properties.

My Department has no function is relation to the compilation of data on the national housing stock. The CSO publishes a range of data in this regard. The Census figures from 2011 showed that over 230,000 houses and apartments, excluding holiday homes, were vacant at the time. It should be noted however that, as required by the Government’s Construction Strategy, my Department has asked the Housing Agency to lead the development of a National Framework for Housing Supply which will inter alia analyse and report on the matching of housing supply and demand. This process will be placed on a statutory footing and will lead to the preparation of an annual National Statement of Projected Housing Supply and Demand.