February 7th, 2024
I'm very happy to report that figures released by the Department of Housing show that 632 vacant social homes were brought back into use in Carlow and Kilkenny between 2014 and 2023, at a total cost of just €9.3 million. This work was carried out under the Voids Programme which supports local authorities to prepare vacant social homes for re-letting. There's good news too that 2020 to 2023 saw an almost 60% increase in the numbers of vacant homes brought back into use by Carlow and Kilkenny County Councils compared to the 2014 to 2019 period.
Making more efficient use of existing housing stock is a cornerstone of Green Party housing policy and a key action of the Government’s Housing for All plan. In this regard the Voids Programme is critical in supporting the Government’s wider efforts to tackle vacancy, and we can see from these figures it’s having a real impact on social housing supply.
This government has recognised that the refurbishment and the return to use of vacant properties is a sustainable and efficient way to relieve some of the pressure on existing housing stock and provide much needed homes for people. The refurbishment of unoccupied social homes under the Voids Programme also has a positive social impact on communities. By preventing the further decline and ultimate abandonment of vacant properties, we can in many instances prevent the antisocial behaviour and other social issues associated with vacancy and dereliction.
For this reason, speed in tackling vacant social housing is key. Through a renewed focus on this as a Housing for All action, we are aiming to ensure the fastest possible turnaround and re-let times for social housing stock, and I really welcome the increased rate of delivery by Kilkenny County Council in the last few years. There were 106 social homes returned to use in Kilkenny in the six years between 2014 and 2019, but as these figures show, that more than doubled in the four years from 2020 to 2023, with 244 units being refurbished and re-let.
I hope these efforts continue at pace and I commend our local authorities on their work on this to date.