Council to try to buy locked empty homes

Housing

Council to try to buy locked empty homes
By Conor Ganly conor.ganly@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

County hall is verifying the housing waiting list as part of a new plan which could include the purchase of reposessed homes from the banks.

Cllr Paschal McEvoy is chairman of Laois County Council's strategic policy committee on housing.

He said the committee is working with council staff on a number of ideas to find homes for people on its housing waiting list.

He said the council is also looking to verify the number listed as homeless

“We are doing an audit of the waiting list to find out exactly what the true figure would be and then we will now how many houses we will need,” said the Stradbally-based county councillor.

He said there are different solutions been looked to provide homes including the use of empty houses.

“There are houses that have been locked up for the last few years that have been repossessed. We are trying to find a way to get the banks to release them and give the council the option of buying them,” he said.

Cllr McEvoy said it is not easy to find out who owns them or what banks are involved. He said some people have abandoned homes which means it can take years to establish any ownership.

“We have people crying out for houses and they are lying vacant,” said the Fianna Fáil councillor .

The committee hopes to have a clearer idea for its next meeting this month.

He said the next step will be for the council's chief executive John Mullholland to go back to Minister Simon Coveney with a plan.

“If he can go back to the Department ( Housing, Planning and Local Government) with a plan, he reckons he will have no problem getting the backing,”he said.

Cllr McEvoy said the homeless problem was worse in other counties but could get worse in Laois.