I along with my colleagues the Regional Group of TDs are urging the Government to support initiatives that will bring vacant and derelict properties back into use as homes in their Private Members debate this Wednesday afternoon, 6th April in the Dáil.

Regional Group members state, with more than 90,000 vacant properties throughout the country there is an untapped supply of homes waiting to be retrofitted and refurbished but in many instances the owners need innovative supports to take on these projects.

The Regional Group have consistently called for a first-time buyer grants scheme of €30,000 of help with refurbishment of these empty homes which in many instances are close to schools and have fibre broadband outside the door.

“This Government should also extend the Local Authority Lease and Repair Scheme to vacant properties where there is not currently a demand for social housing. They could be leased to families over the current income thresholds if there is no uptake from those on the housing lists”.

Every year up to 4,500 people leave behind an empty home when they enter long-term nursing home care, yet just 400 of these homes are rented out as the ‘Fair Deal Nursing Home Support Scheme’ charges an older person three separate times if they decide to rent it out. Reforming the ‘Fair Deal Nursing Home Scheme’ to remove the financial barrier against renting the property would immediately release vacant family homes across our cities, towns, and rural areas.

“It is also time to incentivise the development of clustered bungalow housing close to services for older people, allowing them to downsize, freeing up family homes”.

Regional Group members state that with energy and materials costs rising, the Government needs to implement 0% long term loans for retrofitting homes & domestic micro-generation whereby repayments are paid back through utility companies based on energy savings.