A Dublin housing charity that has been providing permanent rental homes for people at risk of homelessness since the early 1970s is to be taken over by the Peter McVerry Trust.
Stepping Stone Accommodation, which has a property portfolio of 29 homes worth more than €8 million, is to end operations after 46 years due to what it says is increased regulatory and governance requirements for approved housing bodies.
Piers White, who was appointed as chief executive of Stepping Stone 18 months ago, said there were “too many” housing organisations in the State. More than 520 housing organisations operate nationally, with most managing a small number of homes.
“We believe that there are too many approved housing bodies (AHB) in the sector, and that greater efficiencies, synergies and impact can be achieved by partnering up with a larger organisation. We would strongly encourage other smaller AHBs to consider this route,” Mr White said.
The organisation has undergone a 12-month review process that recommended it should identify a larger organisation to carry on its work, instead of expanding and duplicating other services.
“Throughout this process Stepping Stone was keen to find the right organisation to partner with so that our ethos and values would be safeguarded. We are very confident that Peter McVerry Trust is that organisation and that is why we have made a decision for them to take on the operations of Stepping Stone.”
Stepping Stone was originally established as House-A-Marriage and had its first property in Phibsborough in 1972. Since then it has grown its social housing stock to 29 units.
The 29 homes will continue to be used for social housing and all tenants will receive the support of Peter McVerry Trust’s “Housing with Support” service.
“Stepping Stone is very proud to have built up a strong property portfolio with a market value in excess of €8million, which wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donors over the years. Our goal was to ensure that those 29 properties were held for social housing and that they would continue to be used to meet the needs of people impacted by homelessness,” Mr White said.
All tenants have been visited by Stepping Stone and the McVerry trust to advise them of the changeover. Trust chief executive Pat Doyle said taking on the properties would allow it to deliver an "even more ambitious social housing programme" in the coming years.
“Given the value and the unencumbered nature of most of the property in the Stepping Stone portfolio these units will help generate more social housing in the future as Peter McVerry Trust leverages the assets to finance new social housing projects that we may not have been able to secure without this partnership,” said Mr Doyle.
Stepping Stone had done “fabulous work” over the last 46 years, he said. “Peter McVerry Trust is privileged to be chosen to carry on that work and that legacy. Just like Stepping Stone our goal has been to retain these 29 units for social housing and to ensure that the tenants now and in the future receive the supports they need.”