Peter McVerry Trust, the national housing and homeless charity, has said it intends to rapidly grow the number of homes it is providing directly to people impacted by homelessness. The charity, which is now active in 28 of the 31 local authorities across Ireland, worked with 7,800 people and helped 1,300 people secure a home in 2020.
In May 2021, the charity published its annual report for 2020 in Dublin. The report was launched by Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD, at the charity’s first new build apartment scheme at New Street South in Dublin 8, another key milestone in the organisation’s development as a social housing provider.
Pat Doyle, the charity’s CEO, indicates that the longer-term strategic vision is to increase the number of homes it delivers on an annual basis to provide more pathways to housing for vulnerable people in homelessness.
Doyle says that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity had a very successful year in terms of housing development and in progressing people into housing. The charity notes that almost half of its social housing tenancies at the end of 2020 were Housing First tenancies.
“Last year was by far and away the best year we have experienced in terms of housing delivery and progressing people into housing. Overall, we helped 1,300 people secure a new home and directly delivered 150 social housing units in 2020. This included housing right across the country in key areas such as Dublin and Kildare but also in new areas such as counties Cork, Galway, Kerry, and Wexford.
“The delivery of these new homes came about not just because of greater availability of apartments due to the collapse of the Airbnb-type market, but because of greater success in tackling long-term vacant homes through schemes like the Repair and Leasing Scheme where, for example, we worked to deliver the first two units under that scheme in Cork city last year.
“We have also continued to make use of the Capital Assistance Scheme funding from the Department of Housing to enable us to acquire more units for Housing First, people with complex needs and vulnerable young people with a history of State care. The ongoing challenge is the delivery of one-bedroom homes for single people impacted by homelessness and we are working on a variety of ways in which to secure these.”
Largest round of new social housing developments
The charity is now embarking on its latest strategic plan for the period between 2021 and 2025, which it says will deliver an additional 1,000 new social housing units.
“We have a number of larger developments in progress across Ireland. Our single largest social housing project to date is underway in Limerick where, in partnership with Limerick City and County Council, we are constructing 38 two- and three-bed family homes in Moyross and Southill as part of the wider regeneration programme in those communities. This project kicked off in April 2021 and is scheduled to complete in December 2021. All the units are manufactured locally in a factory setting and assembled on site. This is not only our largest project to date but also the first time we have used factory fabricated units for social housing.
“Last year was by far and away the best year we have experienced in terms of housing delivery and progressing people into housing. Overall, we helped 1,300 people secure a new home and directly delivered 150 social housing units in 2020.” Pat Doyle, CEO, Peter McVerry Trust
“In addition to the Limerick Regeneration Scheme, we are advancing three other construction projects in Limerick with a focus on the delivery of one-bedroom homes. The delivery of one-bedroom homes is our primary objective to meet the needs of the Housing First programme as well as the needs of single people in homelessness and care leavers,” Doyle outlines.
While delivering housing across 28 of the 31 local authority areas in the coming years, the Peter McVerry Trust will be focusing its response in areas such as Dublin, Kildare, Cork, Galway and Limerick and other areas with high levels of homeless housing needs.
“We have a number of projects commencing construction this year in Dublin with sites such as Haddington Road, Townsend Street, Shaw Street and Drumcondra Road all scheduled to commence in 2021. This will be far and away the busiest year we will have had for direct build schemes in Dublin.
“This activity will be replicated in other areas shortly as we are advancing construction projects in areas such as Kildare, Louth, Mayo and south Dublin. So, you can clearly see the direction we are taking as we move more into the space of direct delivery,” the charity’s CEO explains.
“This work will complement our already successful model of tackling long-term vacant stock for the delivery of social housing. This includes working with owners of derelict units to return them to use as social housing and we are doing this very successfully in town centres right across the country. Schemes such as the Repair and Leasing, and Buy and Renew schemes are key in helping us secure more homes and we also work to use long-term leasing as a means of generating one-bedroom homes in larger provincial towns.”
Overall, the charity says it is planning to grow from around 650 residential units at the end of 2020 to a figure of 1,650-1,700 by the end of 2025.
Concluding, Doyle states: “Ultimately, we want to ensure single people have pathways out of homelessness and into to secure, high-quality housing. If we can grow as planned, we will have hopefully made a major dent in the homeless figures in this country and helped reduce down the number of people impacted by the issue, which can only be a good thing.”
Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust