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'One former Apollo House resident has died on the streets already'

Many former residents feel let down.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE IRISH HOUSING Network (IHN), one of the groups which occupied Apollo House one year ago this weekend, says that homelessness has become worse since the occupation.

The Home Sweet Home campaign received widespread attention when it took over Apollo House on Hawkins Street on the night of December 15, 2016.

Through the Christmas and New Year periods, over 200 people would pass through the doors of the disused office building on Dublin’s Hawkins Street, making it a symbol of the housing crisis.

However, in the year since, the IHN says that things have gotten worse, echoing the words of Brendan Ogle, who told TheJournal.ie yesterday:

It’s fair to say that emergency is worse, people are dying, Apollo House is still empty for some bizarre reasons it stands there with people sleeping underneath it again.

An IHN statement today said that many former residents feel let down.

“For the residents, life has not been easy. While a small few have seen improvements in their situations, one former resident has already died while sleeping on a Dublin street and many others have ended up back on the streets too. Despite the promises made by the Minister, many were never even appointed a key worker after they left Apollo.

There has been a lot of anger in the year since they made Apollo House their home. Many feel let down, not just by the government, but by the people involved in organising the occupation of Apollo House. Some feel like they were used to make a political point and then dropped right back into the appalling situations they had tried to escape.

Frank, a former resident at Apollo, said:

“I am a recovering alcoholic and suffer from PTSD from living through a war in my country. I found it impossible to stay sober in the homeless hostels. It’s a catch 22 situation.

If I prioritise my recovery, I can’t work full time, but if I want to get into a secure housing situation I need to work full-time. It’s a constant struggle.

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“Once you find yourself in this situation it is very hard to find a way back out. Even when I’m doing well I know I am only one paycheque away from homelessness, and now again, a year after Apollo I might be facing homelessness for Christmas week with a HAP form in my hand. It feels like I’m never gonna find a home.

“I know that I am luckier than others. I’m still sober & alive. Thanks to someone watching over me and a handful of good friends.”

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson from the Housing Department said it had provided funding to have an extra 200 emergency beds available for the end of the year.

The spokesperson also said that the number of families staying in commercial hotels in Dublin has decreased by 22% since March and that there were now about 300 families accommodated in family hubs in the Dublin region, with over 100 additional units of family accommodation to be delivered in Dublin before the end of the year.

Read: ‘People are dying’: One year after Apollo House and homelessness is worse than ever

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