Peter McVerry: Bedsits should only be reintroduced if they reach 'acceptable standard'

It has been reported that the Housing Minister will lift the current ban on bedsit accommodation

Peter McVerry: Bedsits should only be reintroduced if they reach 'acceptable standard'

Peter McVerry. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A leading homeless campaigner is in favour of temporarily bringing back bedsits - but only if they are of 'acceptable quality'.

The one-room accommodation type was outlawed in 2013 because so many of the single occupancy units were considered substandard.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy indicated earlier this year that the reintroduction of bedsits was under consideration, as part of the Government's efforts to find new solutions to the housing crisis.

The Irish Times has now reported that Minister Murphy will announce the return of bedsits next week, alongside other housing measures such as a cap on rental deposits.

However, strict regulations on sanitary facilities, heating and minimum space would apply if one-room accommodation is to make a comeback.

Father Peter McVerry believes bedsits could work as a temporary solution.

He said: "Given the crisis, I would bring them back in for a minimum period, say, of three years, and then to be reviewed.

"It would be on two conditions: one that they reach an acceptable standard of quality, and secondly that they would be offered only to people who are on homeless or social housing waiting list."

"Not a healthy option"

The Labour party has spoken out against any return to bedsits, with the party's spokesperson on urban regeneration, Joe Costello, observing: "The bedsit is not a healthy option for accommodation and thousands of people were condemned to cramped, unsanitary conditions before their abolition in 2013."

Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin argued: “Bedsits are not the solution to the housing crisis. Anybody who claims that these bedsits will be subject to stringent inspections isn’t living in the real world." 

It comes as housing expert has queried the cost of building apartments, after reports that it’s not viable to build affordable units.

According to a leaked report from the Department of Housing in The Irish Times, builders cannot make enough profit off apartments with a sale price of between €240,000 and €320,000.

Lorcan Sirr, housing lecturer at DIT, says he suspects that the Department got its information from builders, rather than from independent sources.

He suggested: "Less than two years ago, the Department also did some reasearch into the cost of apartment building, and discovered it was around €230,000.

"I'm really curious to see how the cost of building an apartment has gone up by almost €90,000 in less than two years, when construction costs have only risen by about 7%."