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Matthews calls for urgent action on Vacant Homes

Deputy Steven Matthews, Green Party TD for Wicklow has requested urgent action from the Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council to appoint a Vacant Homes Officer. ‘The role of a Vacant Home Officer is crucial to identifying vacant and derelict properties to create homes across our towns and villages. It is concerning that Wicklow County Council is one of 13 local authorities that has not appointed a full-time Vacant Home Officer by the Government’s deadline of June 31st, 2022.

Discussing the importance of tackling vacancy and dereliction, Deputy Matthews said:

“Access to affordable housing is very difficult for families and individuals in Wicklow. From the preliminary results of Census 2022, we know that there are 3,469 vacant houses in Wicklow and that the rate of vacancy is at 5.8%. Increasing the housing supply not only involves building new units, but also returning vacant and derelict properties back to the housing stock. This is one of the quickest, cheapest and most environmentally sustainable ways of addressing the housing crisis.

“The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage recently provided an increase in funding for local authorities to appoint a Vacant Home Officer and established a deadline of June 31st to employ someone in this position. It is disappointing that Wicklow County Council still does not have a Vacant Home Officer, as this role is integral to identifying vacant sites and properties and ensuring that the necessary actions are carried out to return these sites back to use.

“I recently launched the Dereliction and Building Regeneration Bill 2022, which if enacted, will introduce a new vacant homes tax, expand the derelict sites register and make it easier to convert over-the-shop spaces into residential units. It is estimated that these measures could deliver as many as 11,000 homes a year. We must act now to return vacant and unoccupied properties for use, as this is critical to increasing access to affordable housing, providing accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers and creating centres for remote-working and the delivery of community services.

“Addressing vacancy and dereliction is one of my priorities as TD for Wicklow. It is also a core policy of the Green Party, which we fought hard to include in the Programme for Government and we recently introduced a new grant scheme for bringing a vacant or derelict home back to life. Bringing these empty buildings and houses back to use not only provides much needed homes but also brings residents to support local business and community and restores life back to empty town centres”



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