Saturday 20 October 2018

Residents asked to tap into new empty houses app created to help solve homeless crisis

Fr Peter McVerry and Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone at the launch of the Space Engagers Reusing Dublin app at Twitter EMEA Headquarters in Dublin
Fr Peter McVerry and Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone at the launch of the Space Engagers Reusing Dublin app at Twitter EMEA Headquarters in Dublin
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Local residents are being urged to use their phones or laptops to identify empty or abandoned properties in their area that can converted into much-needed housing for the homeless by the Peter McVerry Trust.

The homeless charity, in conjunction with the Dublin-based social enterprise Space Engagers, yesterday launched a new app that allows people to input the locations of more than 30,000 empty buildings in the greater Dublin area alone.

The information will then be logged onto a map that will allow the charity to delve into the reasons for the property being vacant and if possible, to tap into a €50m government fund to buy or rent the property to provide social housing for the homeless.

The project, named Reusing Dublin, hopes to tap into local knowledge to identify vacant or derelict properties that may be vacant due to the death or long-term absence of the owner or other reasons, explained trust spokesman Francis Doherty.

Read more: 'Thinking of others not having a Christmas tree in their own homes helps people focus' - Vacant homes initiative sees burst of activity over festive season

"We can then do the research, hopefully we can get the owner and if we can get the owner we can pitch to them to use it," he said.

"We're not saying that every empty building has to be used for social housing but what we're really keen to see is that every empty building is used. It can be just to meet the general housing need to increase the stock. All of this helps," he said.

"There is no project that we won't consider. We've done a lot of different projects," he said of various schemes including converting derelict Georgian terrace houses on Gardiner Street into apartments.

"This is one part of a big solution," he said at the app launch at the Dublin headquarters of social media giant Twitter, a corporate supporter of the charity.

"At Peter McVerry Trust we see empty buildings as spaces with the potential to transform the lives of people impacted by homelessness in Dublin," Mr Doherty said.

"We've been working on empty and derelict buildings for a few years now and we know from this experience that we can create high quality homes much faster and cheaper than traditional new build construction," he added.

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