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Sunday 20 August 2017

Derelict houses 'should be seized' to end homes crisis

Fr. Peter McVerry Picture: Tom Burke
Fr. Peter McVerry Picture: Tom Burke

Gavin White

Compulsory purchase orders should be the radical solution needed to help end the housing crisis which is "like the Famine times", according to housing campaigner Peter McVerry.

His appeal comes as only seven derelict houses have been secured by Dublin City Council since the turn of the year as part of a renewed focus on vacant sites.

Fr McVerry said that although he welcomed the Government's plan to give owners and landlords a financial incentive to put vacant houses back into use, he believed that compulsory purchase would be a better idea.

"It's that sort of radical action that we need to solve what I feel is a problem that is out of control.

"We've got to go back to the drawing board and we've got to look at far more radical proposals to try to end this homeless crisis," he said yesterday on Newstalk's 'Yates on Sunday'.

"It is absurd that someone can sit on an empty property while families are in need of housing.

"We can acquire houses that even people are living in to build a motorway, so why can we not acquire empty buildings in order for a far greater need which is to house families?"

One house that has been acquired by Dublin City Council is a property in Ballsbridge in Dublin 4 which will be auctioned on June 14 with a reserved price of €750,000.

Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan told the Irish Independent that "at one stage there were vermin and foxes roaming" in the Dublin property.

"There are a number of other properties that I have asked about that are lying derelict.

"On Shrewsbury Road there are three or four houses there with nobody in them," he added.

Cllr McCartan said it was "probably best" for the property to be sold privately.

He said the cost of refurbishment would be too high.

"You could see whoever takes it over could just demolish the whole building and put their own stamp on it," he said.

Meanwhile, the Iveagh Trust is close to completing a €10m social housing scheme in Ballyfermot in Dublin, which will be "one of the nicest living environments" for the elderly, according to Independent councillor Vincent Jackson.

The trust is partnering with developers Gerry Gannon's Gannon Homes, Michael Cotter's Park Developments and Cairn Homes to build Part V Social Housing on the site.

The 70-home scheme, which will be launched next month in Annamore Court in Ballyfermot, will help relocate elderly people from houses with two or three bedrooms.

Cllr Jackson said that 11 homes will be made available for homeless families in the area.

However he said that it "showed how big the crisis is" that so few houses were being made available for the huge amount of people who are on the housing waiting list.

Cllr Jackson said that the homes were "absolutely beautiful" and that they would be "ideal houses" for the elderly people who will be moving in to them.

He told the Irish Independent that "the site itself is a substantial site with a capacity of over 400 houses", so there was an expectation that the rest of the site would be for private development.

Irish Independent

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