Fine Gael Senator for Dublin South-West, Cáit Keane, has said that unused upper floor commercial space in Dublin could help to reduce the numbers of people currently in emergency accommodation. Senator Keane was speaking after figures released by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive show that the rough sleeper figures for Dublin are down 38% but the numbers in emergency accommodation is not decreasing.
“The first count of rough sleepers in Dublin since the Government activated its plan on reducing rough sleeping, shows that the numbers are down 38%. The plan is working but we can do more. A total of 1,872 adults were found to be in emergency accommodation. These people can find it difficult to move on to rented accommodation. I am supporting the call made by CEO of The Peter McVerry Trust, Pat Doyle, that unused upper floor commercial space in Dublin city could be remodelled and used as residential accommodation.
“I would like to see a full audit of unused commercial space in Dublin and I urge Dublin City Council to consider carry out such a review. Once we know the scale of the unused commercial space, we could consider if some of the buildings might be appropriate to convert to residential accommodation and turned around faster than waiting for new build to come on stream. .Anything is better than the streets and I think that unused commercial space, while not a long term solution, could help reduce the rough sleeper numbers further.
“In the meanwhile the Government must persist with its plan to reduce the numbers, as it is clearly working. 271 additional emergency beds were provided at the turn of the year and the establishment of the ‘Nite Café’ has been a useful contact point for homeless people who do not want to be placed in emergency accommodation, provide food, a rest area and showers. Dublin City Council is also re-examining its vacant properties currently scheduled for demolition with a view to refurbishing some of them on a temporary basis.
The Government’s Social Housing Strategy intends the delivery of over 110,000 social housing tenancies over a six-year period, through the provision of 35,000 new social housing units, and by meeting the housing needs of some 75,000 households through the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Schemes. Thinking outside the box has been key to alleviating rough sleeping in Dublin and I believe that unused upper floor commercial space could form part of the solution.”