Wednesday 23 October 2019

'Homeless crisis has worsened since Apollo House demonstration' - campaigners

Glen Hansard, Christy Dignam and Jim Sheridan outside Apollo House in Dublin city centre. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Glen Hansard, Christy Dignam and Jim Sheridan outside Apollo House in Dublin city centre. Photo: Gerry Mooney

The homelessness crisis in Ireland has worsened, campaigners claimed.

This autumn there were 1,463 families accessing emergency accommodation, including children.

It is a year since Apollo House, an unused office block, was occupied in Dublin in protest.

The Irish Housing Network said: "Public support for Apollo House turned the building into a symbol of resistance to the housing crisis and its causes.

"For the first time in a long time, people could take meaningful, practical action against the State's shocking disregard for public well-being.

"One year on, we would like to illustrate the situation now faced by those residents and activists as the housing crisis continues to worsen."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said dozens of permanent and temporary beds were due to be made available to ensure there was shelter available to everyone who needed it in Dublin over the winter.

Last year up to 40 homeless people lived in the once empty Apollo House civil service building. The Nama-controlled property in central Dublin was occupied by activists in the middle of December.

The Irish Housing Network said hundreds of people from all parts of society volunteered their time, expertise and experience to make the building a home for those who needed it.

A total of 205 people were given assistance accessing accommodation over the 27 days of the "occupation", with 40 residents, who would otherwise be homeless, living in Apollo House at any given time, the group said.

"It was unfortunate that the then-Minister for Housing did not give any guarantees in writing that all residents would be housed in appropriate settings with the support they needed.

"In trying to maintain contact with former residents it has become clear to us that many of the promises made were made in bad faith and an attempt to quickly end what had become a very embarrassing situation for the government."

Mr Varadkar has said 3,800 more social homes were due to be built next year to help take people off the streets.

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