Call to CPO ‘empty nests’ to help house Galway homeless

Galway City Tribune – Residential properties lying vacant for more than one year must be subjected to a tax and compulsory purchase order (CPO) or leasing orders to help address the housing and homelessness crisis, according to Galway Simon Community.

The charity has said the use of ‘empties’ will not solve the problem but can make a “significant contribution to reducing the numbers experiencing homelessness”.

Chief Executive Office Karen Golden said: “According to the 2016 Census, there were 9,646 vacant homes in County Galway and 2,841 in the city. Bringing some of these vacant homes back into use would provide welcome additional housing.

“The use of vacant properties alone will not solve the current crisis or prevent future housing crises but it can make a significant contribution to reducing the numbers experiencing homelessness.

“In addition, this government and future governments must ensure the building and delivery of sustainable social and affordable housing in Galway and across the country in order to prevent a housing crisis of this magnitude happening again.”

Welcoming the Government’s National Vacant Housing Reuse Strategy – which proposes a ‘proportionate’ tax on vacant properties and encourages use of compulsory purchase powers to bring stock back into use – the charity said immediate action is required for the strategy to start having an impact on the homelessness crisis in Galway.

“Bringing vacant properties back into active use will provide additional housing which in turn will relieve pressure on some of the people who are currently experiencing the stress and trauma of homelessness and housing instability.

“We need to have forensic examination of Local Authority housing stock with additional funding mechanisms structured to incentivise a swift turnaround of these properties back into use,” she said.

She noted the Vacant Housing Strategy references the exploration of taxation measures for properties vacant for more than twelve months.
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