€7m city centre hostel for homeless remains closed due to objections

The site of the proposed hostel
The site of the proposed hostel

A homeless man begs for help to pay for a bed just metres from a €7million property which lies empty after locals objected to it being used as a hostel.

A homeless person begs near the proposed hostel

The property on Dublin’s exclusive Fitzwilliam Square was bought by the city council in 2007 for €7m and was intended to be used as a 30-bed hostel for the homeless.

Council chiefs bought the southside property to address the ‘over-concentration’ of homeless services in the north inner-city.

However, it has never been opened because of a legal bid launched by local business owners, who object to the fact it will include a “needle exchange 

It is estimated that the council has already shelled out more than €600,000 on maintenance and security on the empty Fitzwilliam Street buildings.

The long-running case is due to come before the courts in October. 

The property – formerly the Longfields Hotel – was purchased from Priory Hall developer Tom McFeely for €7m in 2007.

It was planned to refurbish it into a hostel with space for some 30 men, to be run by the Dublin Simon Community. The charity needs to replace its hostel on Harcourt Street.

However, the council received 63 submissions overwhelmingly opposed to the creation of the hostel.

They included the alleged risk of anti-social behaviour and the impact on an area zoned Z8 to protect the existing architectural and civic design.

The latest figures show the level of homelessness in the capital has reached record levels.

According to the Inner City Helping Homeless charity, 156 people a night were sleeping rough in the capital last week.

They say securing a bed for the night has become tougher since the closure of the John’s Lane Hostel last week, which had 42 emergency beds.

In a statement, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive said: “Alternative accommodation is secured with the Dublin City Council Homeless Central Placement Service with the Peter McVerry Trust being the lead provider.”

The 42-bed unit on John’s Lane West was due to be closed to allow for the construction of social housing at the site. The site is run by Focus Ireland, who say the Dublin Region Homeless Executive is providing alternative accommodation, but protesters claim they’re being turned out on to the street.

An occupation of the building occurred last week when Focus Ireland workers attempted to clear the building.

In a statement, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive confirmed that alternative accommodation has and continues to be secured.

It said that 31 new housing units are being built at the site and planning permission requires that they are built by the end of next year.