Number of completed houses is 'overstated'
Just 7,500 new homes may have been completed across the State last year - more than 5,000 fewer than previously believed, it has been claimed.
Architect and housing expert Mel Reynold told the Dáil Housing Committee that using connections to the ESB network as a measure of the number of new homes being completed was incorrect.
This was because it included homes in 'ghost' estates where works started a number of years ago, and that any home disconnected for more than two years was also counted.
He was speaking during a debate on utilising vacant homes to move more people out of homelessness.
Dr Lorcan Sirr, from DIT, said that vacancy rates in Ireland were "very high", with 198,000 currently empty.
"Contrary to popular belief, not all of the vacant housing or land is in what might be called the wrong places," he said.
"A lot of vacant housing, derelict sites and underused space is in locations where there is high housing demand, and in places where their better use would have a very positive impact."
The Peter McVerry Trust said there were 13 empty homes for every homeless adult in our cities, and called for empty units to be subject to compulsory leasing orders, where they would have to be offered for use.
The charity's CEO, Pat Doyle, said local authorities needed to engage with owners, and that tackling empty homes was a "no brainer".