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Kevin Doyle: 'When it comes to housing, nothing adds up'

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(Stock picture)

(Stock picture)

(Stock picture)

It simply doesn't add up. Local authorities have the power to buy unused properties in the middle of a housing crisis but have decided not to.

Well, it's not quite clear whether they decided not to or never considered the idea in the first place.

Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) are something we normally associate with public infrastructure projects. The farmer stands little chance when the State arrives at the door to tell him they need a motorway in his field.

But CPOs can also be used by local authorities to take over houses.

A review in 2016 suggested there are more than 180,000 vacant houses in Ireland.

The report has been widely discredited because it didn't factor in a range of obvious reasons for why a building may have been unoccupied on census night.

But even if a 10th of that figure was accurate it would be nearly enough to fulfil our housing supply needs for a year.

To get supply back on track we need between 20,000 and 25,000 new homes every year. We simply can't build them fast enough.

Admittedly, many of the vacant houses are in rural areas where demand is not as great. But between the four local authorities in Dublin, CPO applications have only been made 26 times in seven years.

At the same time we have 10,000 people in emergency accommodation, including more than 3,800 children.

It doesn't take a genius to do the maths, but finding the solution is a different question.

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