Friday 19 January 2018

Residents angry at plan to house 400 homeless families


SOME of the remaining residents of a flats complex have hit out at council plans to refurbish it for 400 homeless families.

Dublin City Council last week announced a €4.72m plan to redevelop 62 flats in O'Devaney Gardens on the city's northside.

One of the last remaining residents, Michelle Harmon, has criticised the proposal, saying the original regeneration plan should have been completed.

Most of the 300 council flats have been boarded up, and many of the former residents were moved to other accommodation.


Plans had previously been put in place for a regeneration project and planning permission for the project was secured.

However, it stalled due to a lack of funds.

Now the council has said it wants the flats to be refurbished to tackle the city's growing homeless crisis.

"I was born and reared in this place, and when they moved most of the people out to demolish the site they broke up the community," said Ms Harmon (46).

She said many of the residents would have stayed if they had known the flats were to be refurbished.

"I have nothing against the homeless, but we were made promises for over 15 years now and nothing is getting done," she said.

A council spokesman said that a regeneration process - separate to the plan to house homeless people - is still "progressing".

He added that a report issued to councillors said the new proposal will not interfere with the current regeneration of the estate, and the existing tenants will be given priority in having their homes revamped.

Lord Mayor Christy Burke last week slammed the plan, branding it "ludicrous".

"Why spend nearly €5m on temporary accommodation? You could build 40 houses for that and not have to demolish them in just five years' time," he said.

The council is due to vote today on the plan to house the homeless at O'Devaney Gardens, but Mr Burke said he intends to take the matter off the agenda.

If it is approved, the council hopes to house the first homeless families later this month.

Families moving into the units will have to pay utility bills and a rental charge based on their means.

Focus Ireland's director of advocacy Mike Allen said the plan to house the homeless in the refurbished flats was a good one and appealed to city councillors to support it.

"The choices are either to leave people in appalling circumstances or make some effort to try and take the pressure off," he said.

"This is not an ideal solution, but it is a solution to the crisis we face while we are waiting for the ministers and local authorities to deliver the houses we need in the medium term.

"This is only a drop in the ocean of the scale of the problem."

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