Lochside Garage

Calls for empty properties to be used for housing

WITH over 2,000 houses lying empty across the local area, there have now been calls to convert them into family homes.
This week the Department of Finance revealed, in response to Assembly Questions, there are 20,068 houses registered as unoccupied across the North, with 2,084 of these in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone area. With no legal obligation for owners to register a property as empty, this could be even higher.
Noting there were currently almost 2,000 applicants on local social housing waiting lists, and over 1,200 in housing stress, Cllr Adam Gannon said the empty properties could be used to solve the local housing crisis.
“That 2,084 homes remain vacant throughout Fermanagh and South Tyrone is shocking, but taken in the context of the growing numbers on social housing waiting lists the figure is utterly shameful,” he said.
“While the pandemic has contributed significantly to the pressures placed on the system, the housing crisis has long predated Covid-19.
“There is no excuse for the failure to get to grips with this known issue, and one which the SDLP has raised consistently over the past five years.
“For the thousands of individuals and families waiting in dire need for a place to call home, any property lying empty is unforgivable. Efforts need to be made to get as many of these properties back into use as possible.”
Cllr Gannon called on the Department of Communities and Department of Finance to work together to address the issue, and provide “an updated and robust empty homes strategy.”

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