Thursday 24 August 2017

Activists step up attack on council on homeless crisis

Rosi Leonrd, Irish Housing Network and Home Sweet Home Volunteer outside Apollo House. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Rosi Leonrd, Irish Housing Network and Home Sweet Home Volunteer outside Apollo House. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Homelessness activists have rejected claims by Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan that the takeover of Apollo House is a 'publicity stunt' for some of those involved.

They defended their actions to use the empty office block to provide shelter for more than 40 street sleepers.

"Is this a publicity stunt? It is not. It's a very, very serious practical intervention into the crisis," said Rosi Leonard, volunteer with the Irish Housing Network and Home Sweet Home, which is behind the takeover of the Nama-owned office block.

"Owen Keegan can't provide an answer, which is why we had to do this. Dublin City Council hasn't provided an answer. The social housing that was built in the State last year was the lowest on record, so when Owen Keegan says that this building (Apollo House) is not necessary I really don't know what world he's living in," she said.

Every day new deliveries of supplies and help are arriving at the Tara Street office from members of the public, including a snooker table, which has been set up for residents.

Read more: 'We need more homes - not stunts like Apollo House - to solve homeless crisis' - Owen Keegan

"I would be interested to see what Owen Keegan thinks is an adequate response to homelessness because what we believe is an adequate response is a safe, secure place for people to live their lives," said Ms Leonard.

"What he is providing, it seems, is floor space."

Mr Keegan said three purpose-built and refurbished hostels had been opened in recent weeks in the city that provide more than 200 beds.

Ms Leonard also called on Housing Minister Simon Coveney to release details of the status of so-called 'empty beds' after he said 54 beds were left empty in the city one night last week.

"What Simon Coveney is trying to suggest is that people would prefer to stay on the streets, but a lot of people stay on the streets because they feel unsafe in a hostel because they are on a mat on the floor."

Irish Independent

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