Abandoned bedsits turned into homes for Dublin's homeless

‘It’s gorgeous, I wasn’t expecting this at all,’ says woman due to move into apartment

Minister of State for Housing Damien English TD speaks to Fr Peter McVerry, at the launch of the Peter McVerry Trust’s latest social housing scheme at North William Street in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Minister of State for Housing Damien English TD speaks to Fr Peter McVerry, at the launch of the Peter McVerry Trust’s latest social housing scheme at North William Street in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

 

A block of abandoned bedsits that was scheduled for demolition has been turned into modern apartments which will house 11 homeless people in Dublin’s north inner city.

The complex was developed by the Peter McVerry Trust to cater for single homeless people, some of whom will be coming directly from the street.

It is the biggest such development opened by the charity to date.

The building, located on North William Street, cost €1.4 million of which €1.2 million came from the State.

“It’s gorgeous, I wasn’t expecting this at all,” said Louise, who is due to move in on Friday having spent four years living in a hostel. “I’m working now, I have a job, I am stable. And now I finally have a home where I can live independently.”

The Trust plans to continue to redevelop old housing stock into long-term accommodation for its clients. The project is part of its “housing first” initiative which aims to provide homeless people with secure accommodation before addressing other issues such as mental health problems and drug addiction.

Most of the apartments have been assigned to homeless people who have been living long term in homeless hostels. Some will be given to young people who exited state care when they turned 18 and went straight into homelessness.

At least two apartments will be given to people who are long-term rough sleepers. They will be given extra support from the trust to help them adjust to the change.

“One of the most common thing is people forget their keys. If you spend all your time in hostels you don’t have to worry about keys,” trust spokesman Frances Doherty said.

Every tenant will have their own social worker whose phone number is on the fridge in each apartment and who will be available 24 hours a day. Rent for the apartments will be taken at source from the occupant’s social welfare.

The trust says it has worked with local people and organisations to ensure the integration of the new residents. With this in mind, it limited the new apartments to 11.

Speaking at the opening of the event, Fr McVerry said the Government’s housing action plan is failing to help homeless people.

“You have to look at the results. Homelessness has gone up every single month since the plan was launched so in my view it’s not working,” he said. “I think the reliance on the private tenant sector is a more a cause of the problem we have today so I don’t see it as solution to the problem.”