Sunday 22 October 2017

€4.7m plan to rehouse families is a 'waste of money'

Sam Griffin

Dublin's Lord Mayor will oppose a plan to refurbish run-down apartment blocks to house homeless people because he says the move is "a waste of taxpayers' money".

A new report says that the government has agreed to fund a €4.72m refurbishment of housing complexes in Dublin including the O'Devaney Gardens complex in Dublin's north inner city.

More than 60 units would be renovated in the complex to house families who are currently on the housing list, with 400 families in total being targeted for the plan.

The O'Devaney Gardens complex is in an area designated for urban regeneration and the new plan states the refurbishment works will not interfere with those plans.

The work is being done because of the capital's spiralling housing problems and due to the huge costs associated with providing hotel accommodation for families faced with sleeping rough on the streets.

Families moving into the refurbished units will be expected to pay for utilities and some rent, dependent on their ability to pay.

However the move is being opposed by the city's Lord Mayor Christy Burke who says the plan is unfair on those already living O'Devaney Gardens.

He is also unhappy about the plans because he says the necessary services and facilities required by families will not be part of the refurbishment.

"To go out and attempt a refurbishment job and maybe spending €100k a unit is a waste of taxpayer money. It is ludicrous," he said.

"Of course I want to tackle homelessness, but we should be developing adequate accommodation, not refurbishing old buildings and putting homeless people into an area earmarked for redevelopment."

Cllr Burke said the item was on the council's agenda but that elected members can request that certain items be removed which he would be doing. He also said he would be reaching out to Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to make convents owned by the religious, which are in "good shape but not being used", to be made available to people requiring emergency accommodation as a temporary measure.

"That would be a more appropriate measure until we start the building of the social housing programme," he said.

Cllr Burke also yesterday said the homeless crisis in Dublin is now so bad that homeless children will be given sleeping bags.

He said there is no more emergency hotel accommodation in the city and people who seek help from the overstretched homeless services are being told it is pointless registering as homeless as there is no space available.

Irish Independent

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