From Declan Breathnach, TD 22nd March  2016

520. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government about the number of vacant houses that are habitable, as per the last census, by county; and his efforts in bringing these houses on-stream to tackle the homelessness crisis. [4806/16]

From Minister Alan Kelly Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

I propose to take Questions Nos. 515 and 520 together.

While my Department collates and publishes a wide range of housing statistics, the full range of which can be viewed on my Department’s website at the following weblink: , the data sought on the number of vacant units by county are not collected. The most recent information relating to vacant residential units can be found in the 2011 census data which is available on the CSO website, . Insofar as Unfinished Housing Developments are concerned, the 2015 National Housing Development Survey and the Annual Progress Report illustrate that good progress is continuing to be made in resolving unfinished developments and the reactivation of sites is now evident throughout the country. The detailed findings of the annual surveys, annual progress reports and other useful publications and information in relation to Unfinished Housing Developments are available on the Housing Agency’s website at:

. Since 2010, an annual national housing survey of unfinished housing developments has been conducted during the summer months to monitor progress. In that period, the number of unfinished housing developments has decreased by approximately three-quarters, from nearly 3,000in 2010 to 668 in 2015.

With regard to the remediation of vacant social houses, the Social Housing Strategy provides for a target-driven voids retrofitting programme. Between 2014 and 2015, some 5,000 such units were remediated with the support of my Department and were made available to those on housing waiting lists.

In those two years, my Department has provided some €60 million in funding to local authorities for this purpose. This investment is a very significant support to deal with the backlog of vacant social units and a key element in the early addressing of social housing need.

In addition, the acquisitions programme is an important component of social housing supply and is particularly important as a parallel stream of supply while the construction programme builds momentum. All local authorities have been given approval to explore options for augmenting construction supply with carefully targeted acquisitions. In this regard, local authorities acquired some 1,000 units in 2015, as published in the Social Housing Output in 2015 report, which available on my Department’s website at the following link: .