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New plans would see people in nursing homes given incentives to rent out their home

Campaign groups have warned the government that “vacant housing stock alone” will not solve the housing crisis.

Image: Mark Stedman/Rollingnews.ie

CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised over new government proposals to help alleviate the current housing crisis, which would see elderly people in nursing homes renting out their properties.

The housing department announced a number of measures it would attempt to use to provide more homes in the State, and identified vacant properties as an area worth exploring further.

The department said it would work with the Department of Health to explore how the homes of people in nursing homes could be used for new tenancies.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said he hopes to encourage homeowners in nursing homes to lease out their vacant houses, adding that he will be introducing incentives.

This measure, however, has been met with concerns from groups such as Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI), Alone and Age Action Ireland.

Tadhg Daly, CEO at NHI, said: “Older people should not feel compelled or pressured into renting or divesting their home. Many residents in nursing homes still hold great love and affection for their family home and continue to visit it with family or friends.

The move to a nursing home brings a transition in a person’s life that is often very difficult emotionally. We must ensure the wishes of older persons are respected and they are not unnecessarily pressurised into divesting a possession that holds great emotional and spiritual value for them.

Alone CEO Sean Moynihan, meanwhile, said that comments made by the government were unhelpful and risked sending the wrong messages.

He said: “We are concerned that this announcement by Minister Murphy sends conflicting messages and places older people in a difficult position as it may lead the public to believe older people are blocking the housing market.

The number of houses left vacant by those in nursing home care is small but the principle of protecting older people is a larger issue.

Moynihan added that the government had put forth no solutions for older people, and said that their housing needs should be addressed too.

Age Action said that it was now important to see the detail behind Minister Murphy’s proposals, and said that any change to the Fair Deal scheme shouldn’t see nursing home residents hit with a vacant property tax.

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The Simon Communities, meanwhile, urged the government to be proactive in identifying the vacant properties that would be most suitable for rehoming individuals and families.

Its spokesperson Niamh Randall, however, warned that “vacant housing stock alone will not solve the current crisis or prevent future housing crises”.

She said: “This cannot happen again. Governments must ensure the building and delivery of sustainable social and affordable housing output.”

Read: ‘Penalties are coming’: Minister puts householders with vacant second home on notice

Read: ‘People realise it could be them’: 4,400 sign petition to stop Dun Laoghaire eviction

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Sean Murray

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