A government move to bring streams of vacant private homes back into use could prove pivotal in easing Longford's social housing backlog.
That was the bold prediction made by Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD Peter Burke this week in connection to the nationwide rollout of a €300m Repair and Lease scheme.
The scheme is targeted at owners of vacant properties who cannot afford or access the funding required to bring them up to the standard for rental property.
New powers signed off on by Housing Minister Simon Coveney means local authorities will determine a property's eligibility for the scheme with up to €40,000 in grant repairs being made available for each house.
“This scheme will enable vacant properties to be brought back into use as new homes for families on local authority waiting lists,” said Mr Burke.
The local TD undertook a tour of a number of properties which conceivably could fall under the remit of the new government-backed scheme at Palace Crescent in Longford town.
“There are a huge amount of vacant properties both in towns and small villages across Longford so I believe this scheme will be especially effective here,” he added.
In a bid to kickstart the process, Mr Burke urged local vacant property owners to contact Longford County Council with a view to registering their interest in the scheme.
Mr Burke also hinted at what the new proposals could do for towns like Longford that have regeneration projects of their own in train.
“This initiative has the potential to make a huge progress in both the rejuvenation of towns and helping to alleviate the huge shortage we have in this county in good quality social housing,” he continued, while confirming around 800 units had been targeted this year.
"There is no one clear cut solution to solve the housing crisis in this country, but Fine Gael are rolling out a number of schemes which are working to get construction activity moving again and developing unfinished and vacant properties,” he added.