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The facility could be finished in 2024. PA Images

Construction to begin on €30m medical centre for Dublin’s homeless

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien visited the site this week.

A NEW €30 million medical centre for Dublin’s homeless population should be constructed by 2024, after being beset by delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new 100-bed facility, which is to be located at Usher’s Island, will be partially funded by the Department of Housing and will be operated by the Dublin Simon Community.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien visited the site this week.

The chief executive of Dublin Simon Community, Sam McGuinness, said he was “delighted” that work will soon commence at the facility, which will deliver a range of services including detox and rehabilitation.

While Dublin Simon Community has provided medical and treatment services to the city’s homeless community from Usher’s Island since 2002, it is expected that this new centre will be able to provide a more extensive range of supports.

“It has been a challenge to get to this point and today is marks an important milestone in the lives of those who have come through our treatment services and those who have yet to come to our door,” McGuinness said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought fresh challenges for homeless people, homelessness services and charities have worked for the last 18 months to protect the most vulnerable individuals from the virus.

Even before the pandemic, organisations like Dublin Simon Community were under increasing pressure.

The charity’s own figures show that in 2019, it saw an 18% increase in demand for homeless healthcare services, with nearly 1,300 people treated overall that year.

The charity has also warned that waiting times for treatment for homeless people has seen an “overwhelming increase”.

“The medical needs of the homeless population are increasingly complex and the delivery of a service of this size and quality is a testament to our commitment to improve outcomes for this vulnerable cohort,” McGuinness added.

The Housing Minister said it was a “significant development”.

“Simon Communities have been a really important part of my taskforce on homelessness through their chief executive and the team,” he added.

Thankfully we are seeing reductions, particularly child and family homelessness, we are down about 47% over the last 12 months. We are down overall (homelessness) just short of 20%. It’s still too high, there is no questions about that.

“You will see when we publish our Housing for All plan in the next few weeks, I will look at ramping up the social housing delivery.”

Asked why the government delayed the publication of its major strategy on housing, O’Brien said he wants to have a plan that works.

“I want to have a plan that people understand, that is costed and is deliverable,” he added. “It’s challenging but it will be published in the coming weeks.

Around 4% or 5% of the plan on Housing for All just needs to be nailed down further, there is some work we are doing on that. The finances have been agreed. For the sake of a few weeks I have no bother taking any punches in that regard as it’s important we get it right.

“There is a bit more work to do on vacancy and I want to us be able to utilise the stock that is there already.”

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