For Written Answer on : 12/07/2022
Question Number(s): 412 Question Reference(s): 37349/22
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the amount made available by his Department to each local authority respectively to support vacant housing officer posts; the amount drawn down by each of the local authorities; the number of full-time vacant housing officers currently in position in each local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– David Stanton T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 12 July, 2022.
In January 2022, my Department communicated with local authorities outlining that it is increasing the funding made available since 2018 from €50,000 to €60,000 per annum from mid-2022 to support the work of a Vacant Homes Office including a vacant homes officer to support the commitment in Housing for All to ensure that vacant homes officers are full-time. The provision of central funding reinforces the capacity of local authorities, including through the important role of vacant homes officers, to ensure a dedicated focus on tackling vacancy and dereliction with a view to increasing the opportunities for residential development.
Local authorities were requested to arrange for the vacant homes officer position to become full-time by the end of Q2 2022 and to notify my Department accordingly. My Department understands that a total of 17 local authorities have confirmed that at least 1 fulltime VHO is now in place and the Department is continuing the ongoing engagement with the remaining local authorities on the process underway to put in place fulltime VHOs.
A total of 30 local authorities each drew down funding of €50,000 for the 2021/2022 period (July to June) with a total of €1.5 million funding provided. Each local authority which has a full time VHO in place will now be eligible to draw down €60,000 per annum for the 2022/2023 period.
The enhanced programme of work for the Vacant Homes Officer, aligned and integrated with the roll out of Housing for All and the Town Centre First Policy, includes:
- Overseeing a coordinated approach to Housing for All pathways to addressing vacancy and efficient use of existing stock through working closely with the multi-disciplinary technical team in the relevant local authority, to support implementation of Towns Centre First policy
- Actively leading uptake within the local authority of various Departmental schemes such as:
a. Social Housing Capital Delivery Schemes e.g. Buy and Renew Scheme;
b. Repair and Leasing Scheme;
c. New programme for the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of vacant properties to secure for sale on the open market; and
d. Croí Conaithe (Towns) Fund focused on towns and villages
- Actively monitor and assess vacancy data locally to support development of associated targets for vacancy reduction, including in specific urban areas and neighbourhoods
- Advisory role both internally for local authority teams and externally as a contact point for members of the public and key interested parties on vacant homes/properties to assist, inform, provide and promote expert up to date advice on bringing vacant properties back into use