independent

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Apollo House is not a sustainable solution

The Home Sweet Home movement, led by musician Glen Hansard (pictured) and Fr Peter McVerry has struck a chord with the Irish public but I feel that it can only end one way.
The Home Sweet Home movement, led by musician Glen Hansard (pictured) and Fr Peter McVerry has struck a chord with the Irish public but I feel that it can only end one way.

By Deborah Coleman - Straight Talking

The frustration of the volunteers and campaigners behind the Apollo House occupation is justified however, I'm not so sure if they have gone about reaching their goal in the right way.

The Home Sweet Home movement, led by musician Glen Hansard and Fr Peter McVerry who is a long standing advocate for better services for those facing homelessness has certainly struck a chord with the Irish public but I feel that it can only end one way.

Taking control of a NAMA property is quite a headline-catching way to raise awareness for the plight of the country's homeless and I believe that if these campaigners are so disillusioned with the State's efforts at addressing the crisis that they thought, 'enough is enough'.

However, I think that bringing homeless people into a building where they cannot stay on a long term basis is giving them false hope. They cannot stay in Apollo House and opening up the doors without the promise of continuity of service is unfair.

Who is running the service and is it sustainable? And what will happen to those who have found shelter there once the occupation comes to an end and who will help if they are evicted back out onto the streets?

While we can all agree that more must be done to make sure that nobody is sleeping rough, at Christmas or at any other time of the year, we have to be able to offer long-term accommodation quite quickly after the initial emergency housing has been granted. The likes of Apollo House, should it be an approved service, should only ever be a temporary arrangement for those in need, who require social housing.

At the moment, due to the occupation, the building has no insurance for fire damage.

I know that this is the least worry for someone whose alternative is to sleep on the streets, but who would be responsible if a fire did start or if any other tragedy occurred there?

Using vacant NAMA properties for something positive such as helping the homeless would be a great plan in theory, but this result won't be achieved by taking over a building and refusing to back down.

However, it has planted the seed and will hopefully be effective in speeding up a system that usually works at snail's pace.

Wexford People

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