Cllr Paddy McDonald (SF).

Demand for another vacant housing officer – Cllr McDonald

Councillors are calling for a second vacant housing officer position for the county.

Speaking at the May monthly meeting of Cavan County Council, Sinn Féin Councillor Paddy McDonald made the case for additional resources. “As we all know there is a blight of vacant and derelict houses all across the country,” he said.

According to the Bailieborough man one in 25 houses across the country remain vacant:

“That equates to nearly 167,000 vacant houses and apartments.

“Of those, nearly 48,500 homes vacant in 2016 were still vacant in 2022, while 23,500 were vacant in 2011, 2016, and 2022.

“There were also 105,000 homes that were vacant in 2016 but occupied in 2022, and 86,000 dwellings occupied in 2016 but vacant in 2022,” he outlined.

Cllr McDonald believes the growing number of vacant houses in the country is having an impact on the homeless crisis.

“Unfortunately the homeless figures are only going one way, not to mention the increasing levels of hidden homelessness, where families are couch surfing with relatives and friends and working people in their 30s and 40s are still living in their childhood bedrooms.”

The Sinn Féin representative stated that more vacant housing officers should be made available in the county.

Independent Councillor Brendan Fay supported the motion, bringing attention recent increases in the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant to a maximum of €70,000.

He believes the grant will become increasingly popular due to the increase.

Councillors Shane P O’Reilly (Ind) and T.P. O’Reilly (FG) also supported the motion.

In response, Director of Housing Eoin Doyle clarified that funding is only available for one housing officer per county.

He stated 70 applications had been made under the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, 30 of which have been approved to date.