Home Sweet Home announces plans for donated funds

Approximately €129,000 in donations remains following the occupation of Apollo House

The group of activists that occupied Apollo House in Dublin over the Christmas period have announced plans to put money raised by the campaign towards a special “community organising grant.”

Accounts released by the Home Sweet Home group in February showed that just under €190,000 was donated to the campaign over the Christmas period.

The occupation captured the imagination of the public between December 15th and January 12th - with the group receiving overwhelming support form the public in terms of donations and those who made themselves available as volunteers.

Speaking on Newstalk following the release of the accounts, Home Sweet Home spokesperson Freda Hughes said just under €129,000 remained following the occupation of the derelict Dublin building – and insisted that the group’s priority was ensuring it went towards supporting “those most affected by homelessness and by the housing crisis.”

Solidarity grant scheme

In a statement this afternoon, the group announced that it has opened up applications for a solidarity grant scheme which will be available to “grassroots community groups and organisations” that are involved in campaigns to end homelessness - or that provide community resources and services.

“A lot of work went into looking at different potential uses for the donations in a way that is in keeping with the spirit in which it was donated, and a lot of work went into this project,” the group said in the statement on social media.

“This community organising fund will have the greatest long term effect in order to build long term community power, to be able to challenge the political roots of the housing emergency.

“Apollo House was a place where people came together to take a stand against homelessness, but it was also a symbol for how different things could be.”

The group said that the organisations eligible for the grant scheme provide spaces for people to “come together to say enough is enough, and organise to effect political change.”

Applications for the scheme will be received by a “vetting committee” made up of representatives of the different groups that make up the Home Sweet Home collective.

The committee will be tasked with drawing up a shortlist of eligible applications which will then be signed off on by the wider group, “in order to ensure accountability.”

Government's missed deadline

The group noted that their announcement “coincides with the government’s failure to meet the July 1st deadline to end dependence on commercial hotels and B&Bs for emergency accommodation.”

According to the latest government figures, more than 2,700 children were homeless at the end of May.

In total there were 1,312 homeless families including 2,777 children.

There were 4,922 adults recorded as being without a home.

The Government last week acknowledged that it would miss its target of moving families out of hotel and B&B accommodation by the end of June.

The May figures show that there were 647 homeless families in emergency accommodation in the Dublin region alone.

"Redoubled" efforts

The new Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy insisted he is “considering new policy options and responses” to clear the pathway to move the remaining families out of emergency accommodation.

"While there is good progress being made and a range of interventions and supports are in place that are being led by a range of agencies, it’s still a significant challenge," he said.

Sinn Féin has accused the government “utterly failing to help homeless families and urged Minister Murphy to “get to grips” with the crisis.

The party’s spokesperson on education and skills Carol Nolan has called for “new, sustainable solutions.”

“We are calling on Minister Eoghan Murphy to introduce an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act which was drafted by Focus Ireland last December, which was previously rejected by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil,” she said.

“This amendment would prevent Buy-to-Let landlords - who took advantage of substantial tax breaks when purchasing their properties – from issuing possession notices to these families and any other families when they want to sell their property.”

Skyrocketing property prices

Figures, released yesterday, show that Irish house prices have increased by more than €2,000 a month over the past year.

The national average list price during the second quarter of 2017 was €240,000 - 11.7% higher than a year previously and over €75,000 higher than its lowest point.