Deputy Thomas Pringle says the Government should consider offering money to holiday-home owners to use those properties to house Ukrainians fleeing war.
He said: “There is a crisis with trying to find accommodation for Ukrainians coming to Ireland. We have to find accommodation, but more than that we have to find longer-term solutions.”
He said a new policy paper from the Irish Refugee Council urges the Government to prioritise holiday homes for Ukrainian refugees before considering pledges of shared accommodation. The IRC is recommending a voluntary holiday home pledge scheme.
And he added “Government could offer a fee to the owners of holiday homes, and that would give the Department a stock of housing ready for use.”
The deputy said the need to house refugees from war in Ukraine, coupled with the existing housing crisis, means Government must take all necessary actions to secure accommodation that is ready for use.
The Killybegs-based Deputy recently told the Dáil that Government must also invest in vacant housing, saying there are nearly three times as many vacant homes in Donegal as there are families on the county housing list.
Deputy Pringle said there are also empty apartments in Dublin buildings that vulture funds are deliberately keeping empty to keep rents high. These too should be freed up and used for housing, he said. He has long been speaking about the devastating effects of dereliction and vacant housing on our towns and cities and the potential they hold for addressing the housing crisis.
The deputy credited the people of Ireland who have opened up their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.
However, he said, it is clear that more accommodation will be needed.
Deputy Pringle said: “The Ukrainian issue has been building awareness for people of the need to provide safe and appropriate housing for all people coming to this country who are seeking protection.
“We know that the system of direct protection is not the way, and should have never been the way, and must be ended, as the Government has promised. That is another important reason for thinking creatively and humanely of ways of providing safe and appropriate housing for people coming here, and for people who live here already.”