Census 2016 figures indicated that there were approximately 183,000 vacant homes (down from 230,000 in 2011) but, in considering that figure, it should be noted that those numbers were recorded at a single point in time and included houses for sale or for rent, as well as homes that are not recoverable for occupancy for a wide range of reasons. More recent GeoDirectory (An Post and OSi) data estimates a vacant stock of some 95,076 address points or units (as at December 2018).
Under Rebuilding Ireland, funding is available to all local authorities for the acquisition of suitable houses and apartments for social housing use. Local authorities have delegated sanction for the majority of acquisitions they undertake and it is they that identify the opportunities and the appropriate categories and sizes of properties for social housing, based on the nature and priority of their housing lists.
My Department continues to engage on an ongoing basis with local authorities to progress actions to bring vacant and underutilised properties into residential use. Vacant homes officers in the local authorities act as a central point of contact and provide information and advice for owners of vacant homes and engage with members of the public in respect of private residential vacant properties in their administrative area.
Initiatives such as the Repair & Leasing Scheme and the Buy & Renew Scheme have been developed under Rebuilding Ireland to assist private property owners and local authorities or approved housing bodies to harness the accommodation potential that exists in vacant properties. Funding is available to support the local authorities' continued work in these areas.