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Incentivisation scheme for holiday home owners to provide accommodation to Ukrainian refugees urgently required – Cummins

30th April 2022 - Senator John Cummins

An incentivisation scheme for owners of holidays homes to open up their properties to refugees fleeing Ukraine is required urgently, according to Fine Gael Housing Spokesman Senator John Cummins.

Senator Cummins was speaking after the Seanad passed a wider motion on the response to the Ukraine crisis which included a call for the provision of an incentive scheme for owners of vacant and holiday homes as part of the ongoing humanitarian response to those fleeing conflict.

Senator Cummins said, “Government has said it is exploring all options when it comes to assisting people fleeing from Ukraine, with the numbers arriving in Ireland expected to rise as the war continues.

“The Department of Housing is focusing on the mid to long term accommodation challenges that will emerge, with any new accommodation developed in addition to the targets set out in Housing for All for 2022.

“The housing response has to involve coming up with alternatives that are more appropriate and cost-effective when compared with hotel accommodation or communal settings, which have predominately been used when refugees were arriving here in the initial phase of the war.

“Currently around 16,950 people fleeing Ukraine are seeking accommodation from the State.

“In the last Census, 62,148 housing units were identified as holiday homes. If we were to access even ten per cent of those, 6,000 properties would become available which could cater for approximately 18,000 Ukrainian refugees based on an average three-person household.

“As part of an incentivisation scheme between the State and the owner of a holiday home, a lease period of 12 months could be agreed with a rent payment of between €800 to €1000 per month.

“This accommodation would be suitable as they are private, own door properties with privacy particularly for those caring for children and elderly family members.

“It is likely the State would recover approximately 50% of this amount back through taxation and a scheme could be devised where this could be deducted at source to reduce any administrative burden on the holiday home owner.

“This type of approach would incentivise people to give up their holiday homes for a full year but crucially would provide them with the financial resources to holiday at another destination of their choosing.

“The implementation of a scheme like this would give Government time to assess more permanent accommodation requirements, which may or may not be required depending on how long the war in Ukraine persists.

“Most importantly, this is an additional accommodation stream which would not impact on the needs of individuals currently on social housing waiting lists, as this type of short-term accommodation wouldn’t be suitable for long-term housing needs.

“We are making progress on specific actions to deliver suitable accommodation and other supports for refugees, including the development of a special committee to coordinate the response at national level.

“I believe such an incentivisation scheme is a practical short-term and cost effective response which would bring additionality to what is already being provided under Housing for All in 2022.”

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