No homeless here, thanks: ‘People will say their property will be devalued’

Clontarf residents object to 13 families moving into former bed and breakfast in the area

Former bed and breakfast: 19 and 20 St Lawrence Road, in Clontarf, are to be used to house homeless families

Former bed and breakfast: 19 and 20 St Lawrence Road, in Clontarf, are to be used to house homeless families

 

St Lawrence Road is arguably one of the most desirable streets in north Dublin. On each side of a dense canopy of trees, handsome red-brick Victorian houses stretch down to Clontarf promenade.

Nos 19 and 20 – ivy covering their facade, and roses growing in the front garden – are typical of homes on the street. The news that these side-by-side properties have been bought by the Housing Agency, for almost €2 million, to accommodate 13 homeless families has not gone down well with some residents.

Locals are asking what the consequences will be if the properties, which had together been a bed and breakfast, are used for emergency accommodation. Everyone who spoke to The Irish Times said the homeless should be helped but their road is the wrong place to do it.

Almost all were also reluctant to give their names. One local resident, David, who lives on the next road, said the news had created a sense of uncertainty.

“It is going to cause a lot of trouble,” he said. “If the people are peaceful living, I have no problem with that – but, then again, you don’t know who is going in there.

“This is a very quiet road, and if there is a disturbance people will say their property will be devalued. That’s a practical thing. I have nothing against the homeless at all, but there are worries.”

A woman who lived a few doors down from the former bed and breakfast said she had asked Dublin City Council how many of the people entering the house had been vetted by the Garda. “I give out holy communion, and I’m Garda vetted. They are going to put people in there who are not Garda vetted,” she said.

She expressed incredulity at the price the Housing Agency had paid for the houses. “The amount of money they have spent in doing it up, they could have built 100 corporation houses for the same money.”

A passer-by disagreed, saying the properties will be worth twice as much in four years’ time.

One retired engineer said it was disappointing that, although Dublin Corporation had provided thousands of homes for people when the country had no money, its successor was reluctant to get involved in building houses.

“I worked in Dublin Corporation in the 1970s, and they had a brilliant section that was working the whole time,” he said. “The corporation was ideally set up to build council housing. They did a lot of work by direct labour. They didn’t contract it out. Closing it down was an enormous loss.”

One local who was bringing her children home from school did support the Housing Agency and the families it is bringing to the road. “People have to live somewhere,” she said.