Plans for Dublin rough sleeper hostel scrapped after local opposition

Protest against the planned 150-bed facility will go ahead tonight despite decision

Avalon House hostel on the corner of Aungier Street in Dublin city centre. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Avalon House hostel on the corner of Aungier Street in Dublin city centre. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A protest against a planned homeless facility in Dublin City Centre will go ahead tonight despite a decision to accommodate families in the building rather than rough sleepers.

The Peter McVerry trust announced today that the building, Avalon House, would now accommodate 30 family suites and be constituted as a hub, rather than the 150-bedrough sleeper facility that had been planned.

However, Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn said that neither he nor local residents were satisfied by the climbdown, and a planned protest at Avalon House for 5pm today would go ahead.

“This is the same thing. The area cannot afford to take another homeless facility. It is saturated,” Mr Flynn said. “The community are not going to accept this and the protest will go ahead.”

He said locals were frustrated with the McVerry trust over its engagement on the issue, and that he and residents had only heard of the new plan from the press release issued today. Mr Flynn said the area was already home to several homeless support facilities.

In a statement on Friday, the Peter McVerry trust said the premises would instead be used as a family hub.

“Our planned new hostel at Avalon House was a sincere effort on our part to reduce street homelessness in the city,” the trust said. “However, given the concerns raised about the concentration of hostel bed in this area of the city and following consultation with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, we now propose to reconfigure Avalon House into 30 suite family hub to support families out of B&Bs and hotels and assist them into housing.”

The original plan was to convert the building, which currently operates as a tourist hostel, into a 150-bed facility, to include cold weather beds for rough sleepers during the winter. Locals marched on the hostel following a community meeting earlier this month. Local businesses were also prepared to seek a High Court injunction to prevent it from going ahead.

The McVerry trust said the new family hub will “contribute considerably to the plight of homeless families who need support to move towards housing. Housing is the primary goal in tackling homelessness and the Peter McVerry Trust has increased its housing stock this year by 50 units and will increase this by a further 100 units in 2020.

“We have a proven track record of forging strong links with communities across the city and will continue our efforts to do so going forward.”

Avalon House has been run as a tourist hostel since the early 1990s. Its ground floor used to house the landmark Bald Barista café, which has since been replaced by a branch of US coffee house chain Starbucks. The coffee shop will continue trading after the building is renovated as a a family hub.