herald

Friday 24 November 2017

24 homeless families to be moved out of hotel rooms to live in converted office

The converted office in Kimmage had been used for training by the prison service. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The converted office in Kimmage had been used for training by the prison service. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

This is one of 15 properties that will be used by Housing Minister Simon Coveney as a "family accommodation hub" to meet the July 1 deadline of moving all homeless families out of hotel rooms.

The property, located among industrial buildings in Kimmage, Dublin 12, was formerly used by the Irish Prison Service, but will now be a temporary home for 24 families.

The city council hopes to relocate them by the end of next month.

The property had been used as an office for the training and transition of probationers.

Temporarily

In documents seen by the Herald, Dublin City Council (DCC) said it was "converting suitable buildings into family accommodation hubs across the Dublin region", with 15 being set up to house a total of 600 families, according to a Homeless Executive spokeswoman.

This is in line with a deadline given by Mr Coveney of July 1 to have families out of hotels.

However, the spokeswoman said the families would still be considered homeless and the buildings would be used temporarily.

She denied that this was being done by the minister to reduce the number of homeless people recorded.

"The use of commercial hotels for families is unsuitable and the new family hubs will have the capacity to provide play space, cooking and laundry facilities and communal recreation space," one DCC document said.

"Other supports will also be available for families as they move on to other housing options when they become available."

Planning permission was not deemed necessary for the renovation and change of purpose of the building as the City Manager deemed it "an emergency situation calling for immediate action".

The decision was made without consulting any residents or businesses in the area, according to DCC, which said its policy was to make people aware only once the go-ahead was given.

It is understood that a number of council officials, along with surveyors, have visited the site in recent weeks.

However, despite queries from residents and businesses, they remained tight-lipped.

All 24 families due to stay in the property have children, and the target group will have a connection to the area where possible.

Some children may have to attend school outside of the immediate area.

Jennifer and James Cromwell, who live opposite the property, said the plans were a "mystery" to them.

They said they were worried that the building would be too cramped for so many families, but were happy for them to have somewhere to live.

"I tried to go online myself to see what was happening at the address last weekend. We were getting suspicious because they wouldn't tell us what they were doing," said Ms Cromwell.

It is understood city councillors were not made aware of the plans until an area meeting on Wednesday.

Secrecy

Other properties being developed are on Clonliffe Road, Dublin 3, and in Drum- condra.

The hubs will be run by separate social support agencies.

Councillor Mannix Flynn said that by not informing people, DCC was "operating at their own will".

"This is a really bad culture of secrecy and a very dangerous precedent being set without informing a local community," he said.

"You're taking people from the isolation of a hotel room to the isolation of an industrial building."

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