Council urges homeless people not to go to Apollo House

Good quality, safe accommodation available, says Dublin City Council’s Brendan Kenny

210 new emergency beds have opened up across four homeless hostels in Dublin since the beginning of December. Brendan Kenny of Dublin City Council also revealed that up to 100 emergency beds lay vacant over the Christmas period. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

Dublin City Council has defended the quality of its emergency hostels and urged homeless people not to seek accommodation in the Apollo House office block in Tara Street in the centre of the city.

Housing activists have been occupying Apollo House since December 15th last and using it to accommodate homeless people. The High Court ruled shortly before Christmas the group could remain until January 11th as long as no more than 40 homeless people stayed each night.

Brendan Kenny, the council’s deputy chief executive and head of housing, said that, using the services of the Peter McVerry Trust, the council had provided accommodation for 40 people from Apollo House, and urged the activists not to take in additional homeless people.

“It’s not suitable accommodation for homeless people – it’s an office block. There is better quality accommodation in the city and there are unused and available spaces. At one stage over the Christmas there were 100 bed spaces in the city while people were residing in Apollo House.”

False hope

“Our understanding is that there were 40 people, but more people are being allowed in there. We would much rather see a situation where the organisers were now advising people to go to the homeless services and get the support they require,” he said.

“There are people in there who are vulnerable and it’s not fair that maybe their expectations are being raised. In a week’s time, the people have to leave there and we are trying our level best to ensure there isn’t a major problem when they leave.”

Mr Kenny said he was “not knocking” the activists, who had done some service in highlighting the issue of homelessness, but he said the 40 people who had been housed would have got the same accommodation by coming directly to the council.

‘Quality beds’

“They are quality beds, run by professional organisations. There aren’t single rooms for everybody – it’s just not possible to do that at the present time. In some rooms there are two beds, in others there are three, but they are not old-style dormitories.”

Mr Kenny was speaking at a recently opened hostel run by the Peter McVerry Trust at Ellis Quay in Dublin 7 with space for 70 people in two-, three- and four-bed rooms. It is one of three large hostels that opened last month and which the council has spent €5 million refurbishing, including a 75-bed hostel run by Depaul at Little Britain Street, also in Dublin 7, and Carman’s Hall, run by Dublin Simon and Salvation Army for 65 people off Francis Street in Dublin 8.

No doors

Dermot Murphy, senior service manager with Depaul, said some residents with addiction issues need to be monitored during the night and having doors would disturb others sleeping.

Apollo House organiser Rosi Leonard said while a number of the original residents had been given accommodation by the council, they had been replaced by more homeless people.

She said they would not vacate the building on January 11th unless suitable accommodation was found for all those still in Apollo House.