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This new exhibition showcases the potential of vacant buildings in tackling the housing crisis

A total of 183,312 houses and apartments were found to be vacant in the 2016 Census.

Drogheda, Co Louth Peter McVerry Trust plans to reuse the upper floors of this building in Drogheda, Co Louth to create 11 apartments. Source: Graham Seely via Peter McVerry Trust

THE PETER MCVERRY Trust has launched a photo exhibition showcasing vacant buildings and how Ireland’s built heritage can be reused.

The collection of photographs by Dublin photographer and filmmaker Graham Seely looks at the issue of empty buildings and how they can help tackle Ireland’s housing crisis.

The exhibition features photographs of interiors of empty buildings on Dublin’s inner city, Co Kildare, Co Limerick, Co Louth and Co Westmeath.

Townsend Street, Dublin 2 This property on Townsend Street, Dublin has been vacant since 2011, but Peter McVerry Trust's work to reuse the building will commence this year and provide 18 apartments. Source: Graham Seely via Peter McVerry Trust

A total of 183,312 houses and apartments were found to be vacant in the 2016 Census.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie earlier this month, Dublin City Council confirmed that it has approximately 590 vacant properties in its possession.

It said that 343 are currently being refurbished by contractors, 150 are waiting to be assigned a contractor, 30 are being refurbished by direct labour and 66 are ready to be let.

St. Agatha's Court Originally built in the 1950s, this building at St Agatha's Court, Dublin was reused and reopened in June 2017 by Peter McVerry Trust. It now provides 11 units of social housing. Source: Graham Seely via Peter McVerry Trust

The exhibition showcases regeneration works being undertaken by the Peter McVerry Trust to counter the housing and homeless crisis in Ireland.

The charity said that it has so far created 60 homes through the refurbishment of empty buildings since 2014.

It added that it is currently engaging with property owners, as well as various local authorities, on plans to bring about 80 homes through the regeneration of empty properties.

Sherrard Street, Dublin 1 A number of properties on Sherrard Street Upper, Dublin have been gifted by the Jesuit Community of Ireland to Peter McVerry Trust. They will be converted back to their original residential use to provide 12-16 social housing units. Source: Graham Seely via Peter McVerry Trust

Francis Doherty, head of communications at the Peter McVerry Trust, told TheJournal.ie that the idea for the exhibition began after photographer Graham Seely took a photo of one vacant property in Dublin.

“It sort of started with one photo and it was something that we wouldn’t have been able to use in an annual report or social media, so we said maybe there’s something here that we could explore to give people an idea of the conditions of buildings as we find them,” he said.

It will demonstrate just how bad some buildings are that can be brought back into use. It will give us a platform to get a discussion going around why [we aren't] doing more around empty buildings.

“What we’re trying to get across is that we know there are a lot of empty properties but what’s the solution to this? There has to be a solution to the empty buildings question for there to be a solution to the housing crisis,” Francis Doherty, head of communications at the Peter McVerry Trust told TheJournal.ie. 

Looking at the number of vacant properties in the possession of local authorities, Doherty added: “There’s a huge sense of frustration that there are vacant, boarded up council houses.

“Local authorities need to be more proactive and it’s really about changing the culture to being somewhat passive to being more interventionalist in the housing system.”

Walking tours of empty buildings in Dublin’s city centre are taking place every day at 1pm, starting at the Irish Architecture Foundation on 15 Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin 1, until this Friday.

St Agatha's Court 2 This photo was taken outside an empty building at St Agatha's Court, Dublin. Source: Graham Seely via Peter McVerry Trust

Speaking about those who participate in the walking tour, Doherty said: “I think they’ll be shocked at just how bad some of the properties are that we’re bringing back into use.

“There are really interesting insights into the living conditions of people who were the last occupants of the buildings.”

Latest figures from the Department of Housing show that 9,872 people were in emergency accommodation during the week of 18-24 June, an increase of 26 people compared with the previous month.

The figure includes 6,048 adults and 3,824 children.

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