The owners of 61 vacant housing units in Cork have applied to the County Council for the €40,000 Repair and Leasing scheme offered through local authorities.
The scheme offers funds to be spent on repairs on the condition that the property is rented to the council for a minimum of ten years for use as social housing.
The cost of the repairs will be repaid by the owner by offsetting it against the rent due over the period of the lease agreement.
Six of the 61 applications are in the final stages of their request and Independent councillor John Paul O’Shea is hopeful they will receive the grant before Christmas to begin work in the New Year.
“We’re hoping to have those six over the line before Christmas and allow the owners the opportunity to start work on the houses,” he said.
“This is a huge priority for the local authority as these will be 61 new homes for 61 families.
“We’re hoping to process these (applications) as quickly as we can,” he added.
The Evening Echo reported on Monday that more than 130 vacant housing units have been identified in Cork city and county and logged with the vacanthomes.ie website since the project began in August.
The Government-backed website allows the public to anonymously log possible vacant properties and alert councils who can then follow up with the owners to see whether the house can be reused quickly.
More than 1,400 vacant housing units around the country have been logged to date.
Over €60 million has been allocated for two initiatives provided by vacanthomes.ie for 2018 including the €40,000 Repair and Leasing scheme.
However, Mr O’Shea questioned whether €40,000 is enough in light of the fact that 82 percent of the reported vacant units have been identified as being vacant for longer than two years.
“€40,000 might not be enough because a lot of the houses that have been reported have been derelict for a considerable amount of time.
“If a person gets a quote from a builder of €80,000 from repairs, where are they going to get the other €40,000 from? ” he asked.
“We plan to write to the Department (of Housing) to ask can they provide more than the €40,000 to help because it’s clear that some houses will need more repairs than others.”
“€40,000 is a substantial amount of money,” said Tom Gilligan of the vacant homes initiative.
“However, there may be cases that require more funding and maybe the owners will have to put their own money towards a project,” he said.