Up to 444 homes vacant in Ballyfermot and Chapelizod

By Maurice Garvey

Up to 444 homes in Ballyfermot and Chapelizod are currently vacant, representing over five per cent of the housing units in the community.

This is just one of the many findings from an extensive report into the causes of homelessness in the community, launched last week by the Ballyfermot/Chapelizod Homeless Forum.

Homes Ballyfermot

The Forum painstakingly mapped out multiple issues affecting people in the area for the report and action plan entitled ‘A Step On the Pathway To Home.’

Gerry McKeever, Chair of the Forum believes the research will “help us greatly in getting the government and statutory responses that are so badly needed.”

In the report, Mr McKeever states the need for active support from Dublin City Council and the Government to address ‘pipeline’ issues of families who don’t appear on the statistics “but with one more shock may well do so.”

Of the 444 vacant dwellings, the report reveals “little or nothing is apparently known by authorities about the reasons for these vacancies”, and it is “not possible to say whether specific policy moves would trigger their availability for people who currently need housing.”

Among some of the other findings, is that over 25 per cent of households in the Ballyfermot area are occupied by one person.

This represents 1,990 households across the area, which has 7,914 homes in total, according to Census 2016 figures cited in the report.

Ageing households as children move out are acknowledged as a factor, and the report suggests downsizing for these households could free up larger dwellings for new families.

Speaking at the launch, Councillor Daithí Doolan, chair of Dublin City Council housing committee called it a “unique report” that “no other community has done.”

“As a member of the Forum I am very proud of this community. The report will assist Ballyfermot in doing the right thing. It provides, for the first time, research into the causes of homelessness. More importantly it also provides a community-based action plan.

“It is a local response to a national crisis. The long-term solution is to build council and affordable housing here in Ballyfermot. But we must also deal with the immediate needs of homeless families and single people.

Cllr Doolan continued: “The report outlines by working together local groups, agencies and statutory bodies can work in partnership to tackle the causes and consequences of homelessness. We are proposing to provide local family hubs, a local homeless information hub and develop a residential unit for local single homeless people. The key finding is that local solutions work.”

The Forum asked Dr Chris O’Malley and Dr Aideen Hayden to undertake research for the report in August 2016.

It covers input from a wide range of local organisations working on the ground.

The authors were asked to gather as much evidence as possible about the nature and extent of the problem, what is being done about it, and to help identify options for what still needs to be done in response.

Among some of the other findings, it is estimated there are approximately 30 rough sleepers in Ballyfermot.

The research analysed available data to estimate that 230 people from Ballyfermot and Chapelizod are in emergency accommodation – which accounts for 4.5 per cent of the total homeless number from Dublin.

Recommendations from the research will emerge from discussion with local stakeholders.

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