Former pubs, barbers and banks being used to deliver housing for homeless

Former pubs, barber shops and banks are being used along with vacant sites in a bid to deliver housing for homeless people.

Pat Doyle, the chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust said as many as 5,000 homeless people – around half of the total number – require one-bedroom accommodation.

He said his organisation is seeking to provide such accommodation by converting former pubs and other businesses as well as developing brownfield sites.

Mr Doyle was speaking before he and Minister for Housing Daragh O’Brien turned the sod on one such project at the site of a former warehouse on Dublin’s Shaw Street.The plan is to provide 11 one-bed and one two-bedroom apartments there.

Mr Doyle said the private market is not delivering one-bedroom accommodation but his organisation is seeking to provide around 70 this year.

He said: “They’re all either old-buildings, regenerated or else they’re new brownfield sites.

“We have three or four of these brownfield sites in Dublin but we’re also bringing back four pubs into 18 units.

“We brought back a barber [shop] into three units.”

He said a former bank in Cork city is providing five units and added: “We’re breathing life back into the cities”.

Mr O’Brien said the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) run through local authorities say 352 units delivered last year of which 150 were one-bedroom. He said he expects 400 homes to be delivered under the CAS in 2022.

He said that the Peter McVerry Trust has been leading in terms of the use of such schemes and “now we’ve momentum” and “a really strong pipeline” of homes.

Mr Doyle said there has been huge work to house families in recent years while the number of single homeless people remained “stubbornly high”.

He spoke of the benefits of providing such housing saying: “the key to the door opens up much more than just the home.

“It opens up access back into society, back into employment, education training.”

He said one of the Trust’s clients who was recently housed is now off methadone treatment for the first time in 15 years and is seeking employment.

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