Proposed homeless hostel opposed by businesses

Sonja Tutty

The opening of what would be the State’s largest homeless hostel for single men faced heavy opposition during a public meeting on November 20.

The public meeting in Dublin city centre where a majority opposed the opening of the emergency accommodation for 155 homeless adults on Aungier Street, followed statements from surrounding businesses of seeking a High Court injunction.

Avalon House was a backpacker’s hostel opened in the early 1990’s and currently sits above a Starbucks. Peter McVerry Trust and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) signed a lease on the building with plans of opening the homeless hostel in January.

A proposal at the meeting to ask Peter McVerry and DRHE to cater for families rather than men was rejected. The meeting was soon cut short after those in attendance marched to the Avlon House to stage a protest.

DRHE director Eileen Gleeson told the Irish Times the facility was vital in meeting the needs of rough sleeper and explained the hostel would be opening in January as the Peter McVerry Trust already signed a lease on the property.

Gleeson added that there are three times more single people entering emergency accommodation than the DRHE were able to move into permanent homes, meaning they act quickly to get available buildings.

“Unfortunately it’s not sustainable for us to consult in relation to delivering facilities because we need to respond quickly,” she said. “In this market, we go after everything, and we avail of every opportunity, and that’s what has happened with Avalon.”

At the meeting, Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said he felt betrayed by the Dublin City Council and thatAungier street area was in danger of becoming “saturated.”

Responding to his statements, the co-founder of TRUST homeless services said in a letter to the Irish Times, “From our long experience of working in the field, smaller units of accommodation appear to be much more beneficial, with emphasis on quality rather than on quantity.” And added, “A little bit of common sense would indeed be helpful to ensure we avoid the blame game that we have now become so familiar with.

Ronan Lynch, owner of Swan Bars across from the Avalon building, said the area already has four residential units for homeless people which they already face problem from.

Speaking to the Irish Times he said, “…from the point of view of their own welfare as well as everyone around them. Putting 155 people in one unit is creating a ghetto.

Sonja Tutty

Image Credit: Ruairi Carberry