250 properties in €29m drive to help homeless
THE Government has published a list of more than 250 properties which are to be either built or bought, as part of a drive to solve the country's spiralling homelessness problem.
The move, which will cost almost €29m, was announced by Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan and comes after the Government sustained severe criticism in recent days over its handling of the crisis.
In Dublin, 66 housing units are to be built at a cost of €10.3m and will be managed by a number of charitable organisations, including the Simon Community, ALONE, and the Peter McVerry Trust.
Outside the capital, 187 units are to be built or purchased for the homeless. These will include 20 units being constructed in Newbridge, Co Kildare, and 11 units at various locations in Limerick city and county.
There will also be a number of the buildings which will cater for people with disabilities and mental illness, as well as victims of domestic violence. A mother and child refuge is also planned for Cork city.
The package comes in addition to €35m which will be given to local authorities to refurbish around 1,750 vacant houses this year.
Ms O'Sullivan met officials from 34 local authorities yesterday to discuss the plans. She expressed unhappiness with disparities between the time taken by some local authorities to fix up vacant houses.
Some councils can do so in as little as four weeks, while others can take up to 20 weeks to make vacant properties habitable.
A list of 163 housing units which will be bought or built as part of a €16.7m plan to provide housing for the elderly, the disabled, and people with intellectual disabilities was also published.
These will be situated at 34 locations around the country. Almost half of these will have to be built from scratch, the minister said, as they need to be "lifetime adaptable to cater for tenants at all stages of the lifecycle."
The moves are part of a homelessness plan approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.
They are based on an estimation that the homeless population numbers around 2,700 people, including more than 200 homeless families with children across the country who are being accommodated in hotels.
However, Fr Peter McVerry has criticised the plan for "seriously underestimating" the number of homeless.
A spokesman for the minister insisted she was working with the "most up-to-date data" at her disposal.