Minister English urges Local Authorities to use almost €24m in funding and eliminate boarded up Council houses

Funding, Meath

Monday, 18th July 2016

The Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, local Meath West Fine Gael
T.D. Damien English has urged local Councils like Meath to utilise
funding from his Department to eliminated long term boarded up Council
houses by the end of this year and help relieve the housing crisis
locally and nationally.

“The sight of boarded up Council houses is one of the most frustrating
sights in almost every town and village in Meath and Ireland. It is
frustrating because there are so many people genuinely in need of a
home who cannot understand why the system moves so slowly. It is
frustrating as these vacant Council properties are also magnet for
vandalism and anti-social behaviour.  This represents a huge policy
failure as these houses must then be made good again at significant
further cost to the taxpayer.  This is something we want to change”
the Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal said.

Nationally 1,302 vacant social housing units (aka voids) are to be
returned to productive use by Local Authorities this year, at a cost
of up to €23,906,413 from Minister English’s Department. €691,000 will
be spent in Meath in 2016, allowing the retrofitting of 33 units.
Since the start of the programme 113 units in Meath were retrofitted
in 2014 and 2015 at a cost of €1,893,066.

“Whilst houses may be vacant for 4 to 5 weeks in the changeover of a
tenancy, houses should not lie unoccupied any longer than this as it
represents a waste of a crucial asset and potential home for an
individual or family in need. The longer it lies unoccupied it then
becomes a potential financial liability with vandalism and anti-social
behaviour.  Indeed a quicker turnover between tenants would also be
desirable from Local Authorities. I urge Councils to make long term
vacant Council houses a thing of the past by using this national fund”
concluded Minister English.