Homeless families to be housed in revamped industrial premises
A disused industrial premises in Dublin is among 15 properties to be used by Housing Minister Simon Coveney in order to move 600 homeless families from hotels, it has emerged.
The property on Clonard Road, Kimmage - most recently used as a probation office - is set to be renovated by Dublin City Council (DCC) in order to house 24 families.
It comes as part of Mr Coveney's plans to ensure that hotels will not be used as a form of emergency accommodation by a July 1 deadline.
In documents seen by the Irish Independent, Dublin City Council is "currently converting suitable buildings into family accommodation hubs across the Dublin region" with 15 in the process to house in total 600 families, according to a Homeless Executive spokeswoman.
However, the spokeswoman said that the families would still be considered homeless and these buildings would be used only temporarily.
The spokeswoman denied this was a way of the minister reducing the number of homeless people recorded.
"The use of commercial hotels for families is unsuitable and the new family hubs will have the capacity to provide play space, cooking and laundry facilities and communal recreation space," the document read.
"Other supports will also be available for families as they move on to other housing options when they become available," it added.
Planning permission was not deemed necessary for the renovation and change of purpose of the building as the city manager deemed it "an emergency situation calling for immediate action". The decision was made without consulting any residents or businesses in the area, according to DCC, which says its policy is only to make people aware once the go-ahead is given.
It is understood that council officials and surveyors have visited the site in recent weeks. All 24 families due to stay in the property will have children, with the target group having a local connection to the area where possible. Some children may have to attend school outside of the locality.
Jennifer and James Cromwell, who live opposite the property, say the plans were a "mystery" to them. They said they didn't object to an influx of people, but were worried the building wpi;d be too cramped for so many families.
It is understood councillors were made aware of the plans only at an area meeting on Wednesday. Other properties being developed for similar purposes already will be located on Clonliffe Road, Dublin 3, and at Hyde Park, Drumcondra. The hubs will be run by separate social support agencies.
A spokesperson for the Housing Department said that a number of the family hubs would become available by the middle of this year.
He added that the minister is committed to using hotels only in "exceptional circumstances" and that against this background, the department along with local authorities, NGOs, housing bodies and a range of stakeholders are working on delivering the target.