Simon Community gets planning permission for six-storey treatment facility in Dublin

Expanded Usher’s Island treatment centre will be opened by the end of 2021

Simon Community chief executive Sam McGuinness said its expanded medical treatment facility had not been subject to objections from neighbours. Photograph: Frank Miller/THE IRISH TIMES

Simon Community chief executive Sam McGuinness said its expanded medical treatment facility had not been subject to objections from neighbours. Photograph: Frank Miller/THE IRISH TIMES

 

The Simon Community has secured planning permission to expand the size of its medical treatment facility from 34 to 100 beds.

The six-storey development, for homeless people requiring addiction supports, will comprise almost 6,000 square metres of floor area. Construction will begin this year with a completion date by the end of 2021.

The Usher’s Island facility was first opened in 1989 when it was initially an emergency accommodation unit. In 2003 it was repurposed to provide a 21 bed medical residential treatment and recovery facility and expanded again in 2012 to include a HIV respect and stabilisation unit.

Last year a 12 bed step up/step down intermediate care unit was established.

Simon Community chief executive Sam McGuinness said the expanded facility had not been subject to objections from neighbours.

He said the new facility will go a long way towards ensuring that homeless people get the same medical care as the rest of the population.

“Our clients experience multiple social barriers when trying to access healthcare,” he said.

“As a consequence, clients who are homeless tend not to access healthcare or addiction treatment in the first place or when they do, lack sufficient supports after their treatment to recover. This leads to a marked difference to outcomes.”

Speaking at the launch the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said he had been angered by homelessness when he was a student in UCD in the last decade.

“I was angry and frustrated about homelessness during the boom years when the economy was meant to be the economy in the whole world and we still had people sleeping rough,” he said.

“We were very angry about the fact that was happening. We talked about it and got passionate about it. We didn’t have the courage to go out and do something about it, not the courage that Simon has to go out and help people do the work involved.”

Mr Murphy said we still have homeless people especially homeless families despite the economy. “That is unacceptable and that is wrong. There are too many people in emergency accommodation.”

Simon’s annual review reveal that the charity supported 1,560 households (3,404 people) in 2018 from being in emergency accommodation.

Dublin Simon Community increased its service provision by 22 per cent in 2018 to provide services to 7,684 people and families across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan.

Some 1,205 people accessed Simon’s emergency accommodation, 2,183 were provided with housing assistance, harm reduction and medical services by the Rough Sleep Team.