There is no justification for councils not to buy up to 500 vacant properties under compulsory purchase orders (CPOs), the Peter McVerry Trust has said.
Figures obtained by the Herald show only 13 properties have been obtained by the four Dublin councils this year.
Dublin City Council has so far this year used the CPO process to obtain only seven properties, six of which were used for social housing.
The other property was sold through an auction process and has been rendered non-derelict.
Fingal County Council has never used the CPO process to obtain housing in its area.
However, it secured more than 10 properties that were either vacant or abandoned for a significant period.
They were bought directly by the council without going through the CPO process.
South Dublin County Council has bought four properties while Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown has bought two.
Francis Doherty, of the Peter McVerry Trust, said the councils should make a "big bang" by obtaining 500 properties under the CPO process.
The trust has set up a department to look at empty homes and to identify potential properties in the city that could be bought.
Dublin City Council said it was "pursuing an ongoing acquisition strategy" and on Thursday it published a Notice of Intention to acquire compulsorily a further eight properties.
It said that obtaining vacant properties was a "key priority" and the "first option for residential dwellings acquired in this way will be for social housing".
Mr Doherty said the country was in a "housing emergency", and solutions around vacant properties should be found.
"We had a team just yesterday morning in North Strand at a property assessing its potential for housing and we are aware of many properties across the city," he said.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said it considered a number of things in deciding whether to use a CPO including whether the property had "no clearly identified owner" or whether it had been derelict for some time.
It also takes into account the impact of the derelict property on the environment and estate management of the area.