Tuesday 26 September 2017

Apollo House campaigners claim victory as Government confirm two new homeless accommodation facilities

Members of Home sweet home and the Irish housing network on a march from Apollo House to the dept of finance where they called for Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance to make vacant buildings available for housing. Photo: Damien Eagers
Members of Home sweet home and the Irish housing network on a march from Apollo House to the dept of finance where they called for Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance to make vacant buildings available for housing. Photo: Damien Eagers
From left, musicians Glen Hansard and Christy Dignam and filmmaker Jim Sheridan outside Apollo House in Dublin city centre. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The Nama-controlled building was taken over before Christmas by housing activists frustrated by the homeless crisis in Ireland. Photo: Tony Gavin
Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke
The Apollo House building Photo: Conor Ó Mearain
Singers Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard at a briefing by activist group Home Sweet Home in Dublin Photo: Collins
Singers Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard at a briefing by activist group Home Sweet Home in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Collins
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Homeless campaign group Home Sweet Home has claimed victory as the Government has confirmed two permanent facilities in Dublin city centre.

At a press conference, representatives from the group said it had been given a commitment for in excess of €4m for the project.

The development came following intensive negotiations last Friday and over the weekend with Housing Minister Simon Coveney, over the future of Apollo House and the response to the housing crisis.

Union activist Brendan Ogle, singer Glen Hansard and homeless advocate Aisling Hedderman made the announcement on behalf of the group.

Mr Ogle said that on top of the funding, the standards of the accommodation will be raised, with residents being assured they will have their own key in the new facilities.

"Dublin City Council advised us that this positive development only came about as a direct result of the Home Sweet Home campaign," he said.

They said the minister had also given a commitment that no homeless person would have to live in commercial accommodation, such as hotel rooms, by July 1 this year.

Mr Hansard said he had been asked, cynically, why he got involved in the project, which saw the occupation of a disused office building and have transformed it into a makeshift homeless hostel.

"It's personal. My own family availed of services in the 70s and 80s," he said.

However, Minister Coveney has said agreement was already reached on the homeless shelters.

In a tweet he said: 'The two new shelters were already agreed with Dublin CC [city council], then confirmed to HSH [Home Sweet Home] at meeting".

Minister Coveney also released a statement following the agreement which said that residents of Apollo House will be moved on to alternative accomodation.

"Following a meeting between Minister Simon Coveney and representatives of the Home Sweet Home campaign on Friday, and further contact since, agreement has now been reached to facilitate a transition by the individuals accommodated in Apollo House to alternative accommodation, with the appropriate support services to meet short and long-term needs.

 "A range of issues related to homelessness and housing, including a focus on the specific needs of the individuals accommodated in Apollo House were also discussed," the statement said.

Two new emergency accommodation units are to be opened in the capital.

The Minister also acknowledged the need for accommodation which can be accessed by homeless couples. The new units will have units suitable for single persons and couples and will promote independent living skills according to Mr Coveney's office.

 

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