Historic Dublin block to be redeveloped to house homeless

Townsend Street complex will provide permanent homes to 18 homeless adults

The apartment complex at 181-187 Townsend Street in Dublin will be redeveloped to provide housing for homeless adults. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The apartment complex at 181-187 Townsend Street in Dublin will be redeveloped to provide housing for homeless adults. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons


One of Dublin’s oldest purpose-built flat complexes, which has been vacant for almost seven years, is to be redeveloped by the Peter McVerry Trust to provide permanent housing for homeless people.

The charity has been granted permission by Dublin City Council to refurbish the almost 100-year-old flat complex at 181-187 Townsend Street, near College Green, to provide homes for 18 single homeless adults.

Built in about 1920 by the then Dublin Corporation, the flats built in three storeys above ground-floor shops were some of the earliest social housing built in the city.

They remained in use continuously until the end of the century and were considered some of the best-located flats in Dublin, right in the middle of town, and opposite the Theatre Royal, which was demolished in the 1960s to make way for Hawkins House.

However, by the final years of the 20th century the complex had deteriorated significantly and problems with the roof and plumbing had developed. Around 2000, the council stopped allocating flats in the block and began moving its mostly elderly residents to new accommodation. The last resident left in 2011.

The council never developed firm plans for the building, although it did consider selling to developers and using the money to fund other social housing in the area.


In 2015, the Peter McVerry Trust identified the vacant building as having potential for renewal as permanent housing for homeless adults. It plans to refurbish and enlarge the existing one-bedroom apartments and to build ground-floor extensions. The 18 final units will be allocated to single people, the largest group on the council’s housing waiting list .

The trust, has been given State funding of €1.7 million for the redevelopment, which will be its largest construction project to date, trust chief executive Pat Doyle said.

“At the end of this project, there will be 18 new keys to a home and 18 people leaving homelessness behind. This is the type of project that we want to do much more of, because more social housing is the only way we can sustainably reduce the number of people in homeless services.”

The charity said it hopes to begin work on site as early as possible in the new year with the scheme finished and fully tenanted in 2019.

Accommodation for single adults was “badly needed” in the city, Mr Doyle said.

“Peter McVerry Trust has regularly flagged the lack of housing options for single people in homelessness,” he said.

“Each new resident will receive dedicated supports from Peter McVerry Trust housing staff to help transition from street or hostel living to their new homes and to re-engage with education, training and employment.”