Appeal for water refunds to go to homeless

Peter McVerry Trust, Simon Community, and Focus Ireland establish project fund

In a joint statement the charities asked that those who can afford to would forego the refund and would consider using the money to help Ireland’s 8,000 homeless people, more than 3,000 of whom are children. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

In a joint statement the charities asked that those who can afford to would forego the refund and would consider using the money to help Ireland’s 8,000 homeless people, more than 3,000 of whom are children. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

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The Peter McVerry Trust, Simon Community, and Focus Ireland have joined forces to appeal to the public to donate their water charge refunds to help combat homelessness.

The charities have formed an oversight group, chaired by former head of the Workplace Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, to manage what they hope will be a multi-million euro fund for housing development projects.

Irish Water is to refund more than €173 million to about 990,000 householders who paid their bills before the controversial charge was scrapped.

On October 19th the Dáil passed the early stages of the Water Services Bill, which provides for the full refund of water charges to those who paid their bills.

It had been expected that refunds, of up to €325 per household, would be paid before Christmas, but delays in the progress of the Bill through the Oireachtas mean it could be early next year before all repayments are made.

Forgo the refund

In a joint statement the charities asked that those who can afford to would forgo the refund and would consider using the money to help Ireland’s 8,000 homeless people, more than 3,000 of whom are children.

“For many, including those struggling to keep a roof over their heads, the refund of water charges will help making ends meet. For others who are more fortunate it will be a welcome windfall and it is to those that we will direct this appeal.”

The “Refund Project” could help make “an enormous difference in the delivery of much-needed housing,” the charities said, but it would not lessen the Government’s responsibility for tackling homelessness.

“For our part – we are coming together to create a national charitable campaign to enable the public to easily donate their refunded monies towards this hugely worthwhile project.”

Mr Mulvey said he believed people would be open to donating their refund.

“This initiative could create a lasting and more positive outcome to the negative legacy of the recession years and provide that most fundamental of rights – a home.”

Campaign

Details of the specific projects, and how the public can donate their refunds will be announced shortly as part of a national advertising campaign.

Irish Water in recent days established a dedicated refunds website page water.ie/refunds to inform customers how to claim their refund.

Refunds will be paid by cheque to the account holder at the billing address they provided to Irish Water.

Customers are advised to contact the utility if their address has changed and they have yet to update their details. If a customer’s address or personal details have not changed, they will not have to contact Irish Water to get their refund.

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