A housing charity is moving elderly residents out of a housing complex deemed not fit for purpose and moving 18 students in, charging them over three times the rent the previous residents were paying.
Nine single residents have been moved out of their flats in the James McSweeney House in Phibsborough, built in 1984, and were replaced by 18 students.
The Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS) Chairperson Micael McGovern told The College View that the house was not fit for purpose for elderly residents, listing some of the problems including the lack of elevators and sufficient insulation.
“There’s no lift in it and it’s five floors,” said McGovern. “It’s not that it’s not inhabitable, it’s just that it’s not right for elderly people,” he said.
The elderly residents were paying €238 per month in rent. The students moved in are currently being charged €800 per month, a 70 per cent increase. McGovern said that as there are people who need accommodation all over the place, it would be silly to leave properties lying empty.
He said that €800 in rent was a reasonable amount and there was no sophisticated analysis done to decide on that figure. He said they thought it was going to be considerably cheaper than what anybody else was offering.
McGovern said that CHAS got permission around three years ago from Dublin City Council to start moving people out because they had planned to demolish and rebuild it with 38 senior citizen apartments.
“Some of them moved in as early back as ’84. Over the time, they’ve got older but the facilities haven’t got any better,” he said.
He said that the majority of the students were language students who were on three-month courses, so a short-term accommodation stay would not be a problem.
“We’re not doing it to make money, we’re doing it so that we can fund our other activities as a charity,” McGovern said it was a temporary solution that suited both parties.
“I thought it could have been fixed up other than having it all knocked down, any cracks or dampness in it can be all sorted out instead of going through all this hassle,” one elderly resident told The College View.
“In my personal opinion, it should be just left the way it is and get workmen in to do it all up inside,” he said. “I think everyone would be happier.”
Another resident said she didn’t know where she was going to be moved to but wanted to stay in the local area. McGovern said that they were looking into the private rent sector in order to accommodate the remaining residents who wanted to stay close to the church.
Dublin Councillor Mannix Flynn said he put in an objection on behalf of a number of residents and himself, saying there was no reason the residents couldn’t stay there until planning permission was granted.
He said there was no genuine reason to remove the building, “other than, as far as I’m concerned, a kind of profit or greed”.
Flynn said he wants an apology issued to the residents, full accountability and transparancy and proper sustainable planning for the area.
Image Credit: Gillian Hogan