Residents at Carraig Eden in Greystones today (Thurs) celebrated the completion of the purchase of the facility by Wicklow County Council. They were joined by the Minister for Health, Mr. Simon Harris; the Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Mr. Frank Curran and the Cathaoirleach of the Greystones Municipal District, Cllr Gerry Walsh.
Over €3m is being spent to acquire and refurbish the facility in Greystones and the Chief Executive, Mr Frank Curran, commended the Minister and his Department for committing to, supporting and funding the project.
The total cost, he said, would be €3,182,100 which includes funding for a staged refurbishment of the premises. Phase 1 (including acquisition costs) will cost over €2.1m and a further €1m will be spent on Phase 2.
“I believe there was a time it appeared that this project might not proceed and over 30 residents were at risk of homelessness – thankfully due to the tenacity and commitment of all involved, this did not come to pass,” Mr Curran stated.
Wicklow County Council had been working effectively with a number of Approved Housing Bodies to deliver accommodation to individuals with support needs. This housing-led approach, he said, ensured a sustainable solution to homelessness, was enshrined in Rebuilding Ireland and was a commitment in the recently adopted Mid East Region Homelessness Action Plan for Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.
Mr Curran explained that the plan for the property was to enter into a lease agreement for a substantial portion of the property with the Approved Housing Body, Tiglin, who have been operating it’s housing model in the building since 2009 and has succeeded in preventing homelessness in individuals who have taken the necessary steps to rehabilitate and become addiction free.
He stated: “The purchase of this property will allow Wicklow County Council to continue to work with Tiglin to ensure that the long-term needs of the facility’s residents will be addressed by their progression into sustainable, long-term tenancies via the various social housing supports available. A strong referral pathway has been created between Wicklow County Council and Tiglin and this collaborative approach has provided an end to homelessness for a cohort that is largely unreached.”
The property would also be further developed to deliver additional accommodation units for households at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
Wicklow County Council, said Mr Curran, was also tackling the homelessness crisis by continuing its supply programme with 14 schemes at various stages of planning and construction and funding of over €43.4m sanctioned by the Department. Other schemes of delivering new units are well advanced, through Part V units on new developments and units being delivered in partnership with Approved Housing Bodies.
The Chief Executive paid tribute to the staff of the Council’s Housing & Corporate Estate Department, under the directorship of Joe Lane, for their continued hard work in progressing the development programme and in bringing this project to fruition.
Following an introduction by Mr Aubrey McCarthy, Chairman, and Mr Phil Thompson, CEO of Tiglin, a number of residents told their own personal stories about the importance of Carraig Eden for them as a pathway through homelessness and Mr Curran commended them, saying how uplifting it was to hear their stories.
The Cathaoirleach of Greystones Municipal District, Cllr Gerry Walsh, also acknowledged the shared stories saying “There is no need to question why we do what we do after listening to the testimonials from the residents – their stories were very powerful and compelling, well done to everybody for speaking.”
He added: “As we are all aware, significant challenges are being faced by Wicklow County Council in dealing with the increasing numbers of people and families presenting as homeless. The impact of this demand for services, coupled with the lack of housing supply, has led to many people and families finding themselves in a homeless situation.
“The development of relationships between the local authorities and homeless service providers in the region has been critical in dealing with the many and complex issues that have arisen. A reflection of these relationships is the fact that a number of service level agreements are now in place between the local authorities and homeless service providers across the region,” he said.
Speaking at the ceremony in Greystones, local TD Minister Simon Harris said:
“I am delighted to be here today to mark the signing of the contracts on this project. This is the end of a long and hard-fought campaign to protect the Tiglin service in Carrig Eden so I am delighted to be here to celebrate the occasion.”
Minister Harris worked with Ministers Coveney and Murphy to ensure funding would be put in place to save Carrig Eden. In June, Minister Harris announced that the Department of Housing would provide funding to Wicklow County Council to purchase this land.
“Having visited Tiglin and been inspired by their work, it was clear to me that we had to do all that we could to stop this private sale from impacting on vulnerable people. I am delighted that Tiglin now has security. I know the Greystones residents have been deeply concerned about the prospect of Tiglin residents being made homeless so this a really positive day here in Carrig Eden.
“I want to thank everyone who helped to get this deal over the line. Tiglin, Wicklow County Council and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government have all worked very hard to see Carrig Eden saved. Well done to everyone,” he added.
In Carraig Eden, Wicklow County Council will work with the Approved Housing Body, Tiglin, to target a specific cohort of vulnerable people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Particular priority will be given to those who have exited addiction and are now at risk of homelessness, and those who need supported accommodation.
Councillor Walshe acknowledged the vision of the Chief Executive and the housing staff of Wicklow County Council and the support of the Minister and the Department who secured the acquisition of the property. He also commended the Wicklow Ministers and TDs who gave had unwavering support for the project and the elected members of Wicklow County Council for their continued support.