The Government is considering giving payments to owners of holiday homes to house Ukrainian refugees, Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien has said.
Mr O’Brien said emergency measures would be introduced to fast-track the procurement process to allow vacant homes be refurbished to house Ukrainian refugees.
The Government was “not ruling anything out”, he told Newstalk Breakfast, however, camps were “off the table”. Additional land “above and beyond” what had been sourced for Housing For All was being examined, he said.
Later on RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland the Minister said a "trawl" by 31 local authorities had identified 500 locations such as old convents and hospitals which could possibly be converted to provide accommodation.
The vacant buildings were being examined and three retired local authority chief executives were categorising the properties, Mr O’Brien said.
Some properties would take months to make habitable, he acknowledged.
Mr O’Brien said measures to speed up the refurbishment of vacant social housing were also being introduced which would house homeless people and free up places in emergency accommodation for refugees.
Holiday homes were also being considered as were payments to people providing homes. “Every lever available to us will be pulled to provide accommodation,” the Minister said.
Other possibilities such as student accommodation, build-to-rent properties and planning permissions that had not yet been activated because of some conditions were being considered, he said.
Mr O’Brien said he intended to use emergency powers under Section 182 which would allow him to set aside some of the conditions that were holding up planning permissions. “Every option to provide additional accommodation is being examined.”
James Benson of the Irish Home Builders Association told Morning Ireland that change of use of a single house into a multi-home unit could be done quickly, but it would take longer to convert old banks and Garda stations into accommodation.
Changes could happen within weeks to months, he said. However, Mr Benson said an analysis of what needed to be done was required and identifying existing stock would help reduce delivery time.
It could be challenging to find labour to carry out such works, he warned.