Owners of vacant properties in Co Kildare could soon face a new tax as the homeless crisis worsens.
Peter McVerry Trust, the national housing and homeless charity, offering accommodation in Newbridge and Athy, is welcoming the news that the Department of Finance is to develop a report on a vacant homes tax.
There is currently no tax for people with vacant properties. Under new proposals property owners could avoid a tax by leasing the property to Peter McVerry, under the Repair and Lease Scheme, which is already in place.
A spokesperson for the charity, which has been at the forefront of the campaign for an empty homes tax, said: "We fully welcome news that at today's Cabinet meeting an agreement was reached to pursue the empty homes tax issue."We have been a strong advocate of an empty homes tax for some time and believe that such a tax would push the owners of empty properties to put them back into use."
The spokesperson said: "From our extensive research in Dublin, Kildare and Limerick we have come across a large cohort of property owners who are simply sitting on vacant buildings, rather than putting them back into use. An empty homes tax would not only penalise such behaviour, but more importantly would be likely to encourage owners of vacant properties to reuse the buildings rather than face a new tax.There are tens of thousands of empty properties across Ireland in areas with high levels of homelessness and social housing need. Getting these empty homes back into use as quickly as possible is essential to help deliver housing supply."
Recent figures released from Peter McVerry Trust reveal that 214 individuals were supported in Co Kildare during 2016, including those that accessed the Emergency Accommodation in Newbridge and those supported via the out of hour Freephone number. Over 3,600 emergency placements provided in counties Dublin and Kildare.
4,584 individuals were supported across the Peter McVerry in 2016, bed capacity increased to 762 bed units by end of 2016 and there was a 28-fold increase in bed capacity in the past ten years (2006 - 2016).
The average age of those attending Peter McVerry is 32.
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