MAYO County Council has launched an initiative through a new national website - www.vacanthomes.ie - designed to gather valuable information on vacant homes throughout the country.
The initiative takes place in the context of Rebuilding Ireland, the government’s action plan on housing and homelessness. Pillar 5 of Rebuilding Ireland outlines a range of actions to ensure that existing housing stock is used to the maximum degree possible.
It is recognised that an effective way to meet housing needs is to achieve optimum occupancy of the existing housing stock, whether social or private housing. It is acknowledged that vacant dwellings remain a very significant source of accommodation supply. Census 2016 identified 183,312 vacant homes, not including 62,148 vacant holiday homes, in Ireland. A recent GeoDirectory report estimated vacant stock of 96,243.
Mayo County Council, with the assistance of a web design team based in the west of Ireland, and with offices in Dublin and the USA, decided to build and set up a website in order to address the issue of vacant homes and to help significantly reduce the quantity of vacant homes across the country.
The main functions of www.vacanthomes.ie are: to raise awareness of vacant homes and the need to bring them back in to use; help develop a national database of vacant homes throughout the country; provide a 24/7 365-day online one stop shop for advice, education and assistance; allow for crowdsourcing, which helps obtain information or input via the internet; introduce a mechanism for local authorities to engage with homeowners and vice versa; and research, develop and work with others in order to develop ideas, policies and strategies in the areas of housing and in particular vacant homes.
Speaking at the launch, Tom Gilligan, a director of services with Mayo County Council, said: “Our goal is to create new homes from existing vacant housing stock, and www.vacanthomes.ie provides us with a unique opportunity to achieve this.
“We recognise that locally generated information will be crucial in helping us to understand better and deal with the whole issue of vacant homes and empty properties. As a sector, local government wants to engage with owners to bring these vacant homes back in to use.”
Urging people to use www.vacanthomes.ie, Mr. Gilligan confirmed that the site will generate more opportunities for citizens and their communities to access housing and allow the creation of new homes from existing vacant dwellings in an environmentally sustainable manner. It will also provide an opportunity for the local government sector to gain a better understanding of the issue of vacant homes.
“This site operates in real time; it will provide information and advice to various stakeholders, and can provide up to the minute statistics and results that will lead to better decision making in to the future.” explained Mr. Gilligan.
The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, has welcomed and acknowledged the new website initiative by Mayo County Council, which is developed on behalf of the local government sector. This website should provide useful information and advice to property owners as to what steps are currently needed to bring their properties back into use, he said.
To view the website and see how it works, log on to www.vacanthomes.ie works.