Home Sweet Home surplus to be given to ‘grass roots’ groups

Nearly €130,000 raised by group, which occupied Apollo House for homeless, not yet spent

Home Sweet Home group has said it will give the €129,000 it has received in donations to ‘grass roots’ organisations and “sustainable projects”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

Home Sweet Home group has said it will give the €129,000 it has received in donations to ‘grass roots’ organisations and “sustainable projects”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

 

Housing campaign group Home Sweet Home has said it will give a surplus of €129,000 it received in donations to “grass roots” organisations and “sustainable projects”.

Spokeswoman for the group Freda Hughes said on Wednesday that the money would not be used for campaigning or educational purposes following a call from the Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr for the money to be transferred to experienced housing charities.

Home Sweet Home occupied Apollo House, a Dublin city centre office block, for 28 days from mid-December to accommodate homeless people. Accounts from last February showed €189,604.75 was donated to the group between December 15th and January 27th, the vast majority through crowd-funding website GoFundMe.

A sum of €60,812.14 was spent between December 16th and January 24th, a significant proportion on professional security services. A small number of additional donations were since made and about €129,000 remains, it said.

“We have been speaking with other grass roots groups,” Ms Hughes told Newstalk Breakfast. “We are looking at how best to put the money into sustainable projects.”

She added that Home Sweet Home had already donated all “hard donations” - mattresses, furniture and clothing - to homeless organisations.

‘Help directly’

Ms Hughes added: “People donated that money to help directly. They did not donate to see us have a conference to sit and talk about the crisis.”

“We are in the process of taking proposals,” she said. “We are trying to fill the gap being left by the Government.”

The Lord Mayor said it would be an “abuse” of donors not to use their money to help alleviate the housing crisis.

“Rather than letting this money lie in an account it should be immediately put to use assisting people in housing need,” said Mr Carr. “This was the reason it was given to the Home Sweet Home campaign and to not put it to such a use immediately, I believe, is an abuse of peoples’ wishes to ensure the dire housing crisis in our city is effectively dealt with.”

Mr Carr said he had questioned whether the Home Sweet Home campaign “had the necessary abilities to make a long term and effective contribution to ending the housing crisis”.

Dave Gibney of Mandate trade union – who was involved in the campaign group – accused Mr Carr of attacking Home Sweet Home to advance his own political career.

“This is a political stunt. The Lord Mayor is using his position, without ever trying to contact us, to make a grandiose statement attacking a group of well-meaning volunteers.”