Wednesday 1 March 2017

Tenants say no to homeless move by council

Paul Healy

O'Devaney Gardens
O'Devaney Gardens
O'Devaney Gardens near Phoenix Park in Dublin

People living in a flats complex which was part of an abandoned regeneration scheme have criticised a plan to refurbish it for 400 homeless families.

Last week, Dublin City Council announced an ambitious €4.72m plan to redevelop 62 flats in O'Devaney Gardens on Dublin's northside.

One of the last remaining residents, Michelle Harmon, criticised the plan to house homeless people at the flats. She said that the original regeneration plan should have been completed.

Most of the 300 council flats have been boarded up and many of the former residents were moved to alternative accommodation across the city. Some of the flats have been demolished.

Plans that had previously been put in place for a regeneration project at the complex were scrapped due to lack of funds.

Now the council has said that it wants the flats to be refurbished to tackle the city's growing homeless crisis.

Just 14 original residents remain at O'Devaney Gardens, and Ms Harmon said they had told her they objected to the plan. Ms Harmon (46) said she was disappointed that the original regeneration plan didn't go ahead.

"I was born and reared in this place, and when they moved most of the place out to demolish the site, they broke up the community," she said.

She said that many of the residents would have stayed if they had known that the 62 flats would be refurbished.

"I have nothing against the homeless people, but we were made promises for over 15 years now - and still nothing is getting done.

"Right now the place is falling apart - there are more cats living here than humans. Would it not be better to find an empty site, build social housing and put people in there?" she said.

A spokesman for Dublin City Council said that a regeneration process - separate to the plan to house homeless people - was still "progressing".

Lord Mayor Christy Burke last week criticised the plan to house homeless people at the complex, branding it "absolutely ludicrous". He said it would be better to open churches to the homeless.

The council is due to vote on the scheme to house the homeless at the site today, but Mr Burke said that he intended to take the matter off the agenda and speak with the Environment Minister about alternatives.

Irish Independent

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