Empty houses in the Park
Sir, – After a recent walk through the Phoenix Park I was left wondering whether the present housing crisis might have a solution in some way with existing, forgotten or overlooked properties.
Some properties could for the want of a little care and attention be used to house families. Others might require major repairs but could also be set for reuse rather than today where they are left to rot. Each homeless family is a story of distress and suffering and none can feel as open to equality of access as those lucky enough to have a home of their own.
My walk last week brought me along the back roads of the park, and I noticed for the first time how many empty houses I came upon. There were many rundown houses, some hidden in quiet corners, by park gates and hidden forests, all once loved but now forgotten, and now victims to vandalism and vagrants.
When I struck a conversation with a resident of one small gate-lodge, I learnt there were at least seven empty houses, in various states of disrepair, spread about the park grounds. Seven empty houses! “There may be more!” my new friend added despairingly, having himself spent over 70 happy years in the same park. He now sits by his doorstep, the last of three generations to have been blessed with roaming deer in sight of his bedroom window. How much pleasure would a homeless family get to see their children complete schoolwork in this setting, rather than a cold hotel room.
How could someone knowing the housing crisis and the misery that has befallen so many, not react and look at what unused facilities they have that might be rehabilitated to rehouse those that are in need? What stops the State and city agencies to overlook similar houses in disrepair in St Anne’s Park, Malahide and Newbridge Demesne’s (I haven’t an idea what the situation is nationwide or even southside) and put them forward to alleviate housing needs?
Why are so many houses empty that could and should be filled with families?
Now I know the Office of Public Work do great work and the demands are challenging as old treasured buildings require greater effort and expense to protect.
I still remember the dark days of the 1980s when money was hard won but the OPW still managed to reveal some restored gem or open a new facility in one of its parks and we all felt that the little monies they were given they had set to good use.
If we were all in despair the OPW lifted us that little bit.
So please OPW or whomever, turn on the radio, read the newspaper, listen to the plight of the many and do what you can in your job or within your remit.
Ask if you need additional budget for repair works, but don’t tell us you haven’t any building lands when it’s not land you can offer but the derelict houses, sitting idle, that we need now. – Yours, etc,