Empty houses: Should they be given to those in need?

Empty houses: Should they be given to those in need?

 Empty houses: Should they be given to those in need?According to the annual report released by Homeless agency Focus Ireland this week, there are currently 5,000 people without accommodation in Ireland with a further 100,000 households waiting for local authority housing.

Following the publication of their report the charity has called on the Government to use empty houses left over from the boom to provide accommodation to those most in need. They asked how “thousands of homes were lying empty in every county when more people than ever before were living in inadequate, overcrowded, unsuitable and insecure shelter“.

Their appeal comes not long after the Respond Housing Unit urged NAMA to consider using empty houses for those in need and to only consider knocking down empty and unfinished houses as a last resort, “Waiting lists for local authority accommodation are rising and NAMA should now deliver on the promised social dividend… It could be argued that the only real housing market at the moment is the social housing market as private demand has been virtually wiped out,” said Aoife Walsh, spokesperson for the Respond Housing Unit.

It is now estimated there are between to 345,000 and 352,000 vacant houses in Ireland.

Have your say: Empty Houses: Should they be given to those in need?

  • Should the Government do more to tackle the issue of homelessness and provide homes for those who need them most?
  • Should local authorities lease homes available in their areas to cater for housing needs?
There are 58 comments for this article
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  2. David Doyle at 9:31 pm

    I’m in full time employment paying rent to a landlord and cannot afford to save a lot of cash needed for a cash diposit, now my rent is 1050 a month and with 2 kids child care is not cheap, and I say noting about the bills.
    Ill have house please and not an apartment with management fees out of control like dublin city dockland and dublin city council, that’s why no one is buying apartments I think.
    So I say people whom have full time work should should me made an offer if interested.

  3. Aoibhinn Stuart at 9:01 pm

    I believe if the correct guidelines were put in place and managed correctly these homes could be given to the homeless and those in need. It makes absolutely no sense to knock down houses when there are people living on the streets, these people have not chosen to be homeless, and everyone deserves a new start in life. It would be unethical to bulldoze them.

  4. Elaine at 5:19 pm

    My self and my partner have been turned down for the government affordable housing because we are not up to the affordable standard,
    I am a part time worker and my partner works full time ,we are both on minimum wage and have one child, We rent at 750 a month and would love one of these empty homes and happy to pay 750 to own our own home.
    I think they should look at the people and family’s who want to upgrade there home for an extra room and those trying to get a helping hand on the property market.I bet a lot of family’s would love to get off the social housing list and pay for their home, I know my family would 🙂

  5. Roisin at 6:29 pm

    I do not think that these properties should be GIVEN to anyone.

    I think it is a reasonable suggestion in order to attain some return on these properties that they be used in a rental agreement scheme for those on housing waiting lists. There is no need for ghettoisation given how many properties are involved.

    So long as the scheme was monitored and managed like the current successful RAS scheme run by Dublin City Council or a housing initiative such as the many voluntary housing bodies nationwide, I really see no major issues.

    As for the comment about non-nationals – I personally find that comment racist. Being a non-national does not mean you are a second class citizen. Arbitrary prejudice is wrong whether it concerns someone’s age, race, nationality, creed, sexuality, marital status etc etc etc it is also illegal.

    I also find the broad generalization and subsequent judgments made by certain posters in regard to persons currently reliant on social welfare payments abhorrent and whilst those persons may [or may not] have had an unfortunate experience renting out their own properties the risk on renting out private property is the same regardless if someone is paying rent or they are dependent on rental subsidies. There are good and bad in every section of society. Being prejudiced against someone because of poverty is immoral and down right discriminatory, not to mention smug and self righteous. Many people currently reliant on social welfare payments have recently lost their jobs through no fault of their own or have not been able to secure work following upgrading or gaining qualifications. I would urge a large degree of caution on some of the highly offensive and discriminatory language being used by posters on this subject.

    Whilst I sympathize with those who have bought houses and do struggle to pay for them I would note that buying a house is an investment. Investments carry risk especially if you have over extended yourself in they manner in which you borrowed in order to buy said house. Market conditions change, interest rates change if you did not factor this in when budgeting to buy that is not the fault of anyone except yourself. Other investors whose properties are currently vacant should be allowed to find any possible means to find some return on their investment and in consideration of the actual question at hand there is no reason why part of the solution in that area cannot be brought about through social housing in some shape or form.

    Again, I would urge caution on comments surrounding individual person’s levels of income and their possible behaviours. Not having money does not mean you will become a criminal or a social degenerate. There is no causal relationship between the two. Please do not generalize and judge people on a minority of people whose behaviour is unacceptable just because you are too lazy or too mean to think beyond your own prejudices to the very real reasons why people are forced to resort to social support.

  6. Helen at 3:38 pm

    I agree with Sandra, they would only be given to non Irish which in the ideal world would be perfect, but we dont live in the ideal world. We are all struggling in this resession, to house people for free would just cause huge bitterness amount people working and paying a mortgage in a house which has lost so much value. Do a rent to buy scheame. At least the builders would get some income again and maybe able to take on workers to finish them off. Or will all our taxpayers money go on saving the robbiers in the suits.

  7. Robert at 1:50 pm

    GIVING away houses for 25 euro per week is a big slap in the face to people who have to work hard for what they have, a give away society creates lazy people who know they don’t have to do anything to get everything, or don’t need to take any responsibility for their own circumstances.

    Of course there are exceptions which should be provided for but overall I don’t agree with a big giveaway.

    Affordable housing with large discounts can be part of the solution with a moderate allowances for social housing for those who need it most.

    For properties close to the city (Dublin Cork Galway) there is a strong rental market, the properties should be rented and then NAMA can wait five or ten years to sell them when demand returns.

    Okay some estates will have to be knocked as nobody social or not will live anywhere with no services.

    Affordable housing whith large discounts may be part of the solution with a moderate allowances for social housing for those who need it most.

    For properties close to the city (Dublin Cork Galway) there is a strong rental market, the properties should be rented and then NAMA can wait five or ten years to sell them when demand returns.

    Okay some estate will have to be knocked as nobody social or not will live anywhere with no services.

  8. Breda at 10:51 pm

    No, they should most definitely not be given to the homeless, rather they should be given to people who have been making an effort to buy their own homes but now find themselves in danger of losing them because of the recession. Another section of the community who should be seriously considered for these houses are young couples with small children who are paying astronomical rents for apartments and houses, some of whom have lost their jobs, having been earning two incomes up to recent times to pay for decent accommodation for their families, and are now told by Social Welfare they are not entitled to help because the family should be able to live (exist) on one income with the same living expenses. These people have shown from past experience that they are prepared to pay for and look after such houses. After all the people who have been trying to buy their homes were and are the tax payers of this country. As for “Respond” they seem to be recruiting in foreigh countries for likely Clients. Incidentally it is time to give our own people the same treatment and advantages which we afford to refugees. We ask no more for our own than we are prepared to give to others.

  9. Henning Duve at 5:38 pm

    I am slowly getting sick that people who comment here do not read previous postings – hence repeating what has already dozens of time. Obviously this is no area to reasonably discuss things but an area for people to simply get rid of their private problems.
    I am really sorry that I participated.

  10. niamh at 8:11 pm

    it’s like anything when people are given something for free they don’t look after it…..cos hey if they wreck that house they can move into another one cos so many are empty!!!!
    when I rented my apartment with the rent allowance scheme my property was left in a disgraceful condition when she left. WHY? cos she was living in it for free not to mention the fact she wasn’t working and given a free apartment.
    The issue with this country is we always try to clean up the mess post problem.
    There are so many homeless people for many complicated reasons in this country but free housing is not the answer just like free rent and millions of benefits to keep people in a bubble and give them no initiative to help themselves.
    I am a single woman who works and pays a mortgage and currently looking to buy a house instead of living in an apartment.
    Will the government give me a free house? I DON’T THINK SO!!!!!!!!!

    • Lucy at 2:13 pm

      Well Said Niamh It happens ever day what happend to your apartment I rented out my home so I could help my mother take care of my sick dad, It Lasted 4 months before I asked the tennents to leave, thank god I put a 3 month property check in the contract because my home was destroyed, even the kids had picked out the silacon that sealed the windows out with a pen, back living in my home for the past 2 years and trying to pay as I go to try get it back to what it was before I rented it out. The reason this happened is that family that lived here did not have to work to pay for the roof over there head so they ruined my home and moved on to someone else without a care in the world! I understand now why so many rental adverts say no social welfare and professionals only!! Handing them a free home, not really going to sort out anything!

  11. Marcella at 7:44 am

    No they should not be given to the homeless or the needy because they will do Ghettos. I am currently living in an area where alot of people are given houses and these houses are badly neglected and it also leads to anti-social behaviour. I am currently trying to sell my home bacause of this. I think these houses should be used to help other people who want to move or need help to buy their own houses not just given to anyone.

  12. Henning Duve at 5:41 pm

    Joan –
    I respect your degree/master’s essay – but every work/degree has to be seen in a certain context. And the US is extremely different to Ireland as it is to the ‘rest’ of Europe – hence, you cannot compare these countries.
    You obviously also don’t see the point that the housing market IS already destroyed and probably won’t recover in the next ten years ore even more.
    Purchasing some of the houses by the state/state organizations/ housing organizations in a TOTALLY INACTIVE market like this would have several effects:
    1) increase the national cash-flow
    2) increase the national tax income
    3) starting the (housing) market to probably get sound again
    4) give people (a proper low-rent scheme for those in need provided) the possibility of a new start, hence
    5) creating loads of new jobs
    6) this, again, increases the gross social product and again more tax income for the state
    … and so on.

    And, by the way just a hint to one of the previous posters: Please do not discriminate the so-called ‘foreigners’! Most of them work and pay taxes as well – and those who can’t lost their jobs in the same way and are in the same position than their Irish colleagues. Think also, that Ireland got a huge economical push up by Europe! It is time now that this country learns to solve the national problems by itself…

    • Joan Lester at 6:32 pm


      It has taken me a little while to respond to your post. I certainly agree that circumstances may be/are different in Ireland vs. the United States. However, basic economic principles remain the same in free market economies. Economics is based on the behavior of markets–how markets as a whole respond to specific events. I suspect you are right that it will take ten years or more for the housing market to recover in a totally inactive market. However, would you rather it be ten years or fifty?

      My dad told me that, prior to 1929, our old family homestead was worth $25,000. The Great Depression hit, and, in 1933, when my dad’s father died, the property was worth only $6000. The value had dropped 76%. It took fifty years (1979) for the house to recover its initial value of $25,000, and that doesn’t account for inflation.

      Your government and my government are both strapped by debt. Letting the government stoke the economy works up to a point, but the debts will eventually have to be paid–making economic recovery that much harder. That said, I do think a government could undertake purchase of empty houses for the poor on a very small scale, as long as the occupants were carefully screened.

  13. Joan Lester at 2:13 am

    First, a disclaimer. I am American, from the southern part of the U.S. I entered this website initially a few months ago to look for a place to live after I was offered a wonderful job in Ireland. However, due to “work to rule,” I was unable to get a work permit within a reasonable period of time, so I eventually declined the position and returned to my old job here.

    More than 30 years ago, I wrote a 200-page Masters’ essay on the problem of housing for low- and moderate-income persons. The problem is complex, because every action taken by the government results in an equal and opposite reaction by the market as a whole. There are always unintended side effects. I am not aware of any government that can afford the expense of purchasing large numbers of empty houses for the poor. Even if the government could afford such, and even if the poor took proper care of the properties, the result would be long-term depression of the housing market at large. Property values would decline precipitously, and everyone would lose out in the end.

  14. Annon at 11:13 am

    Sorry Mike but no way should homes be used for any other purpose then to be sold if other people in these estates have bought there homes. I understand that everyone trys to find a solution but you can not mix tennents (council,social ect) who pay very small amounts a week with people who are working there asses of to pay for the home they bought in order to better there lifes, the results are not good, I live in an estate that this has happened in and its a nightmare. Some people just do not realise what they have been handed and have no respect for it, there area or other people. Its a social thing that will never change im afraid. When people become accustomed to getting everything without haveing to put in any hard graft they have no intention to better themselfs or there situation and have no respect for thoses around them that do.
    I live this every day and you have no idea how strongly myself and my neighbours who own there homes feel about this. Its not right Its just not right!!

  15. Aishling at 11:05 am

    I think some posters are forgetting about the people who already live in these estates and have worked dam hard to buy there homes.

    As for Daire, Im afraid your caught in a catch 22 which happens so many people in this country. Your a prime example of who these vacent homes should be given to, peopel with famiys who work and cant buy a home with the way things are in this country.

  16. Mike Allen at 10:05 am

    Thanks for the huge amount of feedback on our proposal. Some of the concerns might be resolved by clarifying a details of our proposals.
    – we are not saying that houses should be ‘given away for free’ – the formerly homeless tenants would pay differential rent like any other social housing tenant.
    – It saves money. Housing Associations would borrow money to buy the premises. The DOE would use the (substantial) money they currently pay to private emergency shelters to make an ‘availablity payment’ to the Housing Association to provide social housing.
    – We do not propose to put people into ghost estates and then abandon them. Many of the empty homes are unsuitable for social housing, we wouldn’t use them – but many are suitable. Focus Ireland (or other homeless organisations) would provide tenant support to ensure that people are supported to move out of homelessness into sustained and responsible tenancies. We have a proven track record in achieving this, without creating ghettos.

    Hope that clarified the proposal and makes it easier to see how it would work.

  17. sandra at 1:44 am

    Absolutely NOT. Ireland is already a mess. Who will receive these homes( foreigners) Most people do not appreciate anything that is given to them for free, much less a house, and how is that fair to the people breaking their backs to keep a roof over their heads.

  18. Vincent Banks at 11:41 pm

    They should be given to people on the Local Authority
    Housing lists and the homeless who want a house.

  19. daire stynes at 9:17 pm

    im in need of a house i work full time my girl friend is not working at the moment we have 2 kids the banks we all bailed out wont give me a loan to buy a house we are 954 on the counsel housing list witch means about 10 years to wait and were not entitled to rent allowance because i work we got in contact with resond a year and a half ago and never heard back from them + i tried the affordable housing route with no joy because you have to get a loan of the banks where do i go from here im living in me girl friends mothers and fathers small house can anyone give advice on what to do because im lost??????

    • Elaine at 10:58 am

      I agree with daire. my self and my partner are the same. were were not excepted on the affordable housing list.and are going to be waiting years for a local authority house.
      We have one child and i work part time. Its a joke !!! Banks get bailed out but no help for young family’s
      Sad times we live in 🙁
      Were just at the council all the time, cuz there is no other route to go down ,only just to sit and wait .

  20. Sharon Mc at 8:42 pm

    I do not agree that empty houses should be “given” away to anyone. Myself and my fiance had to scrimp and save for more than two years to buy our house and I’m so glad we did. It may sound horrible but we’ve worked ourselves to the bone to get the house and now to pay all the bills that come with it, but it’s ours.
    Support is available to homeless people if they seek it.
    Generally, people who do not own the property do not respect it and I for one (I’m sorry if I sound bad)do not want a messy/noisy/disruptive person living beside me because they have no responsibilities in regards to bills, housekeeping, property management etc.

    Sell the houses at a cheaper price if needed to give first-time buyers a chance to get on that (long) ladder

  21. Brenda Larkin at 9:35 am

    I agree that you cannot just “give ” houses to homeless people. I support Focus and had a long chat with them about this issue recently. What should be done is to give the properties to the organisations who try to help the homeless to manage and operate with a long term view to getting these people back on line and giving them some dignity and something to aim for. There was a scheme in London I heard about years ago where this was done and there was a time limit of 2 years for an occupant. In that time the organisation helped people to get a job and get themselves back on their feet.Gave them a start in life. Then they had to move on to make room for someone else. Obviously this wont work for everyone as there are different reasons for people being homeless but it would provide a step in the right direction for those who could benefit from some positive and constructive help. People who are homeless for no fault of their own and who need a leg up to get sorted.

  22. Henning Duve at 9:25 am

    I agree with many of my ‘fore-posters’ – giving away the houses for free does not make sense, but letting them fall into disrepair neither.
    A new housing scheme has to be installed that has to be cost-effective in both directions.
    The government could acquire those houses for a fraction of the costs – it will serve the government that has little money to spend, as well it will serve the sellers/owners/companies who otherwise would not see ANY money for it, yet even would face a much BIGGER loss.
    These (finished but empty)houses then could be rented to people in need (like the current scheme for – let’s say – 30 Euro a week), or even lower rents if there is an agreement that the tenants keep the house in order to their costs (which needs a control instrument implemented though).
    The unfinished houses/construction ruins have to be examined – whether it is cheaper to finish them and to add them to above mentioned scheme, or to demolish them. Both incentives create jobs, buying power and new tax income for the state.

  23. Phil Smith at 2:42 am

    Great info! Some people should really learn this type of information. Here as still seems a mystery to so many. If you followed my advice and assembled a portfolio based on asset values (P/E, P/B), rather than on current price movements, so-called “performance” or “expert opinion”, you will not own ETFs that force you to sell at a loss.

  24. Emer at 11:21 pm

    No, the government, builders, financial regulator (what a joke) and the banks, let the industry get out of control. They encouraged people to borrow beyond their means, knowing that the market would crash eventually, it always does and then picks up again. But in the meantime, people who have paid premium price for a house a few years ago could now be stuck in a house that’s worth virtually nothing and their next door neighbour has paid virtually nothing because our taxes have just got them a house for virtually nothing to them, but a lot to the tax payer, whoes salary has been cut anyway and now can’t afford to move on and buy a house of their own, with ‘real and well earned money’. There are a lot of people in this country who should be locked up for their pathetic excuse at their jobs.

  25. anne p at 7:57 pm

    Yes and no.

    Yes because every citizin of Ireland deserves a home. Local authorities should lease the houses and rent them to the homeless under the same guidelines as the rent their own stock of houses.

    No the houses should not be rented to people who have been homeless for many years straight off. These people need assistance in the beginning to
    relearn the skills of managing their finances and the responsibility of living in a house. For example maintaining the inside and outside of the house etc.
    There should be a ratio of 2 or 3 per 100 houses
    rented to the homeless to stop areas beconing ghetos.

  26. Paddy at 6:05 pm

    I live with Lone parents and people on housing lists and while I dont mean to tar all with same brush the majaority do not appreciate that they have been handed a home, they do not take care of it, they do not try better there lives in anyway and pass this thinking to there children. Again I am speaking on my direct experience of living as a home owner in a mixed estate of 250 homes and what I witness everyday. Yes I would agree if the governtment where to take over entire estates and give them to needing people so they are occupied thats fine but you cant mix people paying every month for there homes and people getting them for free so I see 2 options. Either take on an entire estate that has not sold houses to people and give them to the people on lists or where houses have been sold to people set up a scheme where people who could afford a small mortgage can apply and the cost of the home sold to them is greatly reduced with a claw back writen into the contract or that if they sell it is sold directly back to the to the scheme for it to be sold again on the same ground. You can NOT mix people it does not work

  27. Max at 5:37 pm

    Homeless Need: 5,000 bedrooms/houses out of 345,000 Houses.

    Temporary or otherwise…

    Local Authority Need: 100,000 Houses

    Neg Equititeers Need: Calculators & 240,000 homes to turn into businesses. Everyone would agree that they were ripped off. (I am not a Neg Equititeer I have a very powerful calculator it’s called DELL-boy)

  28. trisha monks at 4:39 pm

    hi im writing to agree with the girl above me and i strongly agree with her reply but i do have to point out that NOT ALL HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE GHETTO and there is some unforseen circumstances that make a person homeless i myself was homeless for a couple months in 08 when i was 6 months pregnant due to unruly landlord so was that my fault that he evicted me because his sister needed a house but i got back on my feet and am now renting i think the houses should be rented out im paying 600 mnthly for a house i could do a lot better things with this money instead of paying dead rent

    so not every homeless person is to blame for their circumstances and yes most of the homeless are alcoholics or addicts n yes some of them chose to have that life but there is the percentage of them that have been forced to live like that and thats not a ghetto situation i take it by the majority of comments above that ireland really is a closed minded country and for that i am ashamed to say im irish!!!!!!

  29. Roisin at 4:16 pm

    YES, so long as they are appropriately managed through a rental scheme such as the already existing RAS scheme. This will ensure that the properties are kept free of damp, are occupied and are therefore secure and also so long as the allocation does not create as one poster suggested GHETTOS. I might point out to that poster however: Many people on housing waiting lists are working people who cannot get a mortgage and are responsible adults paying rents to private landlords already. Suggesting albeit obliquely that because someone cannot afford a home of €250000 makes them some how undesirable and likely to be a contributory factor in creating Ghettos is highly insulting and incorrect.
    not having a lot of money does not mean that you are automatically irresponsible or a bad person especially at this time in this country’s economic history. I would beg all persons reading these posts to be cognizant of that point.

    It is better for the future of any property that it is occupied again for reasons including the 2 mentioned above. It is furthermore better for those holding title to those properties to get some return on the investment into that property even in the short term.

  30. lisa kennedy at 4:00 pm

    i think they should be giving to familys in need or homeless people with a low rent so they can afford it.. but alcoholics or people with drug addictions shold not!!! as in my opinion there on the street for a reason!! the houses would come in use off lone parents or familys

  31. Aishling Clarke at 3:42 pm

    No these homes should not be given to the needy or homless. I think these homes should be reduced and sold so that people who can buy a house but not a current prices gets the oppurtunity to do so. I being one of these people bought a home under the affordable housing in Dublin 5 years ago a the hight of the boom. After everyone on the affordable housing in the estate bought there homes the county co. gave vancent houses to social housing and council list. The result I cry every time I have to come home, I work every day to pay for my home and spend as little time as poss. in it. I love my house its just who now lives around me and other home owners here feel the same and very strongly about it. you can not mix people who get a house for nothing and people working hard to pay for the same house beside each other, the care for that home is visable when u walk onto the street. Why let nice areas where people go out to work for having the pleasure of owning that nice house in that nice area go to ruin when there are hundreads of hard working people who would give anything for the chance to buy a home and take care of it. The mind set of people who get handed homes and thoses who work for them are very very differet. I live it everyday and long for the day I can move away to a fully priv. estate and raise my child in safty, in cleaness, because that all went out the window for us where i live that pay for our homes!!!

  32. Kev McDee. at 3:17 pm

    Government should do more about housing for people trying to get on the ladder…
    However,in helping the needy , nothing should be given for nothing….

  33. Bingy at 3:04 pm

    To the ‘politicians who are, en masse, destroying this country (not one of them….have anything to ‘crow’ about), let’s move these homeless families in next door to you…in D4, Foxrock….even Dalkey? (I am a D4 resident, myself…..). It is not acceptable to ‘burden’ certain communities with ‘non desirable’ elements who have no sense of civil responsibility, whatsoever? On the other hand….those who have proved their ability to live, without causing any disrespect to their fellow human/animal brothers…should be rewarded…in some form? It does seem to raise more questions (about the Irish ‘diaspora’ than it would, apparently, answer? The only positive thing to come out of this affair is that the ‘politico’s’ are sure to mess it up….sooner or later? Let them do what they are BAD at….again….they are good at that….well some of them are…..?

  34. harv at 2:54 pm

    Local Authority housing is currently costing more to build than their completed value in the current climate. NAMA have an obligation to secure existing unoccupied houses from Banks at reduced rates.
    Unfinished houses should also be included and completed by Local Authorities which will also provide much needed work in the construction industry.
    We can make this a win win situation for all.

  35. Sandy at 2:31 pm

    No, I am strongly against it!
    Why helping them? They will NEVER pay back what is been giving to them, cause they don’t work. If they want a house, they need to get up in the morning and find work! That’s how everyone else does it! Why will it be any different for them?

    How about the middle-class people (myself) who have to repay ridiculous mortgage fees, stupid creches fees, bills and other taxes?? None has helped my husband and myself to find a house!! Everything comes from the work we put in, and save!!
    That should not be any different for those people!!

  36. Rhonda at 1:55 pm

    I think they should be used wisely in a rental scheme. The families could be means tested and the areas made as diverse as possible to avoid the ghetto type situation that others are talking about. I’ve been working in communities in Dublin for almost ten years now, and I find that areas with a bad reputation have one because the government piled loads of people from areas in town where they all knew each other and had supports eg shops, neighboura they knew etc and landed them into huge estates with no amenities. If things were thought out properly and people were housed on a slower an steadier basis this could definitely work. It’s a shame that there are so many people on the streets, everyone deserves to have a place they can call home.

  37. John Daly at 1:49 pm

    No I do not beleive these empty houses should be given to the homeless . Irish people have this longing to own our homes and not rent them if possible.We live in times where some of our population think that the “State” owes them a living…for nothing , but the state is you and me that get up each and every day to go to work for the privilage of paying our taxes and our mortages ! There are no freebies in life and everyone should work for what they have or get . If these houses are given out free to the so called “Homeless”then why bother with a Mortgage

  38. James diMartino at 1:43 pm

    Yes, let the vacant property be used, but not for free. There must be some sort of payment/rental schedule with an option to buy so that people appreciate what they have worked for (always more valuable then what you are just given} and also have the hope of downline actually owning a place of their own.

    However, there must be home ownership classes where people are fully apprised of what home ownership means; care of the grounds of the property, maintenance, etc. This could be a sort of audition step during the rental period where their ability to actually handle home ownership can be assessed.

    Then some partnership with a group of banks to make owner serviceible loans available to the successful applicants.

    Just a thought

  39. Andrea at 1:43 pm

    Absolutely these houses should be allocated (on a temporary basis) to homeless people. They are an ideal opportunity for homeless people to kick start their lives, with a fixed abode they have a base of operations, and I don’t see why eventually they cannot pay rent and add to the area. I am sure there is trepidation by those who live on estates where there are empty houses, but what’s more important; somebody’s life or a pretty house/area?

  40. Colm at 1:36 pm

    There are a couple of issues here that make it a hard call. There are thousands of families waiting for the taxpayer/council to provide them with accomodation. It is going to cost billions to build enough houses. Take the Limerick regeneration for example. That is planned to cost between 1.5 and 2 billion mainly in new houses. At the same time we are taking posession of many ghost estates either through NAMA for the large developers or through the state owned/funded banks for the smaller developers. The state should immediately stop building new houses (including in Limerick) and instead take over these estates.

    There will be an argument in Limerick that the people of Southhill/Moyross/etc want to stay where they are but with new homes. Well in that case they can build their own house at their expense in the location they want. We will provide a house somewhere else in Limerick City or Limerick County or within say a 30 minute commute. If they don’t accept it then tough. If you get it for free you waive all rights when it comes to choice.

    As to the ghetto argument well again if they don’t like it tough you don’t have to take it but you lose your place on the list. Get a job and buy your own house outside the ghetto. We are not proposing moving them to an estate of 2000-3000 houses like Southhill. It is most likely going to be an estate of 50-70 houses. Ghettos won’t be a major issue.

    The complication is in estates where people have already purchased homes. We can’t take over the remainder of these estates and hand out free houses to all lazy comers while those who worked hard and fended for themselves are left with huge mortgages. In these cases the unsold houses should be either knocked and returned to green space or if enough totally unoccupied estates are taken over for free council houses then when the market improves the ones that are left in the half occupied estates may sell. However the default option should be to knock the unsold houses unless a strong case can be made to the contrary and the estate finished off. The money saved from the social housing budget by simply taking over ghost estates can be diverted into finishing the ghost estates and the half occupied estates (like the ones on Frontline last week).

  41. enree at 1:02 pm

    I don’t know, it’s a tough call. I think they should be offered on a scheme similar to the “rent to buy”, that way they will be looked after better.

  42. Michael O’Neill at 12:04 pm

    Yes and no.

    No first – you cannot give homes to the homeless. I have spoken over the years to several social workers and planning officers about the problem of homelessness in Ireland and Dublin in particular. They share the same basic experience. In the first month the house is lived in. By the second month the enclosure is beginning to look rough and the interior starts to suffer. By the end of the third month the house is in a poor decorative state internally, with several fixtures and fittings and some window panes broken and needing considerable money spent in it to bring it back to livable condition.

    Homeless people do not make good local authority tenants.

    Yes to those people who need a home and prefer to be housed and have no desire to be homeless. Such people may have problems but value a toof over theri heads. Depending on the severity of these peoblems, which can include additions to drink, drugs, cigarettes, unhealthy eating habits as well as teenage pregnancy – all of which can affect more affuent people too – their stay in a social house context will be more or less successful.

    Those most likely to succeed in any home or community will be those who have gainful employment but cannot afford a mortage, whether because their earning potential is so low, their weekly outgoings so relatively high – a large family, for example – or the fact that their work is seasonal – farm labourer – or cyclical – the building trade.

    For such latter group as for any group, the difficulties will arise due to
    (i) the remote locations of many of the developments from schools, shops, services and amenities;
    (ii) the poor quality and amenity of the environment within the development due to unfinished roads, paths, Public Open Space, street lighting, services, drainage and effluent disposal and
    (iii) the lack of available public transport, private transport infrastructure and emergency services, Fire, Ambulance, Police in far-flung rural areas especially.

    While the weekly shopping bill might be low, and there is a roof over your head, there may well be little or no sense of community. The occupants who get in on the Council ticket will be viewed askance by their private purchase neighbours who may be in debt to the tune of hundreds of thousands of Euros, working all the hours God sends just to pay the bills, having a severe limit on their family’s growth – as against persons who are set up in the same houses for no outlay and who are rewarded by the tiering system in the children’s allowance for having more and more children, especially twins or higher sets.

    Ghettoization is one outcome of segregation, but unless segregation is considered on demographic basis in such situations, social unrest may follow.

    Michael O’Neill

  43. Remy Caballero at 12:01 pm

    I think it would be better to give the houses to
    those who have no shelter and capable to maintain or rent to own with a reasonable price.

  44. Tom at 11:57 am

    No, Houses should be offered at a reasonable price to those that wish to work and purchase their own home.

    Our society rewards those who do not wish to work too much. There is no incentive to apply for jobs that pay minimum wage or close to it as our social welfare pays nearly the same amount as minimum wage and does not incentivise anyone to accept these positions.
    A home owner and employer.

  45. Graham O’ Reilly at 11:54 am

    The situation should be examined on a case by case basis. So, do we knock all these houses down and continually have homeless people, with nowhere to place them, or do we do something about it. I agree we dont want these houses/housing schemes ghettoised, but whats the point in having all these vacant houses/properties etc, with people ready to move in, if we are not going to avail of them!

  46. Tracey at 11:43 am

    While it would be pointless knocking down or leaving houses empty, I think more thought should be put into “giving away” houses. I bought an apartment 4 years ago which is now in negative equity as I could not afford to purchase a house and a lot of people are now in my position. I’m living in an apartment when I would love a house. Maybe mortgage companies should allow people in negative equity move house and carry the negative equity with them rather than leave us in apartments we thought were purchased as a stepping stone to owning our own house.

  47. James at 11:42 am

    NO The houses should be auctioned without reserve to owner-occupier, (not speculators). The plan proposed supposes the taxpayer paying several times the market value for houses which will then be provided to people who will then expect to live there for minimal rent while the long-suffering tax payer pays to complete and maintain the estates.
    Auction without reserve is the way forward, only then we will know the true market value of these properties and the market can move-on. Anything else is a property industry concocted con of the tax payer.

  48. vera at 11:39 am

    they sould be given to homeless

  49. alan at 11:36 am

    If correctly managed it could be definitely be feasible… many people looking for social housing are people in a difficult spot, so it does make sense… not all should be tarred with the same brush, for instance, people out of work with children, unable to afford creches etc. To avoid the potential ‘getto’ scenario other posters have mentioned, it could be means tested, for instance so people with criminal records could be avoided.

    There is the argument that it would devalue the area, however given that many of the’s houses are simply unseallable right now, their current market value is 0, so rental income could at least improve this somewhat for the homeowners.

    As part of the means testing process, if people are willing to get involved in the maintenance and upkeep of the estates could potentially get preferential treatment to actually improve these estates rather than turn them into the “gettos” others have described!

  50. Padraig Yeates at 11:29 am

    Giving away houses makes no sense, but neither does leaving them empty. It should be possible to devise a scheme linked to people’s incomes and liabilities eg number of children. That way you tackle homelessness and secure some sort of return on the capital as well

  51. Jake at 11:29 am

    Lets go for all out communism. No I dont think its a good idea at all. I agree with Tom and his ghetto suggestion. People in houses worked hard to get them. I’m not saying that all hard working people have houses. The way the economy and jobs market is, many are out of luck at the moment. But for those who have worked hard to buy in a certain area, how fair is it that others waltz in there on the back of some scheme? And those hoping they can sell up again in a few years and claw some money back against what they paid? Aint gonna happen if the area becomes a social housing development/homeless shelter. We need to be fair. What this article is suggesting, is not.

  52. Annmarie at 11:22 am

    No they should definately not be given to homeless people and the likes – generally the most of those people would not appreciate the houses and you will end up with rough housing areas that aren’t maintained but the people living in them most of these people don’t have an ounce of respect for themselves why would it be any different for something that is “GIVEN” to them. I myself am also trying to purchase a house at the moment why amn’t i GIVEN a house.

  53. Tom Firth at 11:03 am

    No they should not be given to the homeless or the needy because they will create Ghettos . Other ways should be thought of , including making these empty homes more affordable to people who want to move to newer even better accomodation and have some finances . The empty homes that they vacate could be given to the homeless and the needy .

    • Brenda at 9:44 am

      No I dont think they should be just given away.I agree with Tom. There are just as many people trying to sell their houses, especially people wanting to upsize. People selling 3 beds to move to 4 beds and cant move as they cant sell their own home. If the Government bought these house up and sold/rent them at a cheap rate to the homeless, then it would free up the people trying to move on. It would start a whole domino effect. I’m trying to sell a 3 bed hse for the past 3 years. I have reduced the price by 150,00 so far. If the government bought the likes of my house, it would free up the person selling the house I’m looking for and so on.

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