An initiative to encourage people in nursing homes to sell or rent their properties won’t be effective, and this group should be the last targeted, according to Fr Peter McVerry.
Several actions to deliver homes by utilising empty properties were announced this week by the Department of Housing which includes a ‘Fair Deal’ scheme, in which elderly people would be encouraged to sell or rent their empty houses.
“If you’ve lived in a house for 50 years and you’re in a nursing home I’d say many people would baulk at the idea of strangers living in their home, so they’re not a group I’d want to target,” Fr McVerry said.
He added that currently 80% of the assessable income of anyone in a nursing home goes to the State, which would make becoming a landlord uninviting. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy’s department are believed to be in discussions with the Department of Health in the hopes of introducing an exemption for rental income.
“To date the Government has been using the carrot approach…but that has been remarkably unsuccessful,” Fr McVerry said.
The homelessness campaigner said that an assessment followed by substantial taxation on empty properties and “the ultimate threat” of Compulsory Purchase Orders were needed to tackle the growing numbers of families being made homeless.
In a statement the Peter McVerry Trust welcomed several of the measures announced, which they have campaigned for including “the creation of a national empty homes unit, the appointment of empty homes officers in each local authority area and a national empty homes database”.