Nama denies it is hoarding 173 empty properties
State bad-bank Nama has rejected claims it is failing to use vacant properties to help tackle the homeless crisis.
The agency said that 173 properties it controlled were currently lying idle, but that all were temporarily vacant because they were either up for sale or between tenancies.
The figures come after homeless campaigners involved in the occupation of Apollo House in Dublin last month accused Nama and the Government of failing to tackle the homeless crisis.
It said that homeless people who did not need support for addiction or mental health issues should be given residential housing through Nama.
The latest figures show almost 7,000 people accessed emergency accommodation in November, the highest on record. Some 2,600 were children.
Nama debtors or receivers control 4,000 houses and apartments across the State, the vast bulk of which are rented.
"Nama does not own residential properties but it expects debtors and receivers to ensure that properties are occupied and generating income and that any vacant periods are kept to a minimum," it said in a statement.
In a parliamentary reply to Sinn Féin TD John Brady, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that 173 were temporarily vacant with many sales agreed, or between tenancies.
Figures show that the homes are across 14 counties - 73 are in Dublin, 25 in Cork, 21 in Clare, 16 in Kildare, and nine in Galway. There are six each in Waterford and Westmeath, four in Wexford and Longford, three in Mayo and Louth, and one each in Limerick, Monaghan and Kerry.
Mr Brady said it was not acceptable that any Nama properties were empty at a time when people were seeking a home. "It's alarming that we have a homeless and housing crisis but there is 173 vacant properties," he said.
"I'm looking for a breakdown of how long they are empty."
Mr Noonan said that the agency aimed to deliver 20,000 houses and apartments by 2020 to help resolve the housing crisis.