Empty houses 'must be used for those in need'
HOMELESS agency Focus Ireland has called on the Government to use empty houses to provide accommodation to those most in need.
The charity asked how thousands of homes were lying empty in every county when more people than ever before were living in inadequate, overcrowded, unsuitable and insecure shelter. The charity revealed that as many as 5,000 people are homeless at any one time, with 100,000 households waiting for local authority social housing.
A further 93,000 are in receipt of rent supplement, an emergency social welfare payment for private rent. "What makes all of these figures even more shocking is that these dramatic increases in housing need have taken place at a time when we have been building more houses than ever before," Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said.
"How can it be that Ireland managed to build in the region of 250,000 homes that were not needed during the boom years, yet we have still failed to provide enough homes for those who need them most?"
But the Government has said that many of the 300,000 empty units are not suitable for social housing because they are built in areas poorly served by public transport and with few amenities. It intends to lease certain units from the private sector for up to 20 years, instead of building new units.