Green light for new scheme to temporarily house homeless women in Kilkenny City

Council says new project will help ease reliance on emergency hotel and B&B accommodation

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

County Hall

The matter was discussed at a meeting of Kilkenny County Council at County Hall, Kilkenny, on Monday

New temporary accommodation exclusively for women is to be opened in Kilkenny City next year, in order to be help reduce the present reliance on emergency hotel and B&B accommodation.

The project will see the refurbishment of Greensbridge House and B&B, to transform the structure into five one-bedroom, self contained, own-door units. It has been granted full funding under the Rebuilding Ireland programme.

At present, there is no transitional accommodation for single women presenting as homeless in Kilkenny. It’s intended the accommodation be provided for a number of months, and for a maximum of two years.

There are currently nine homeless families in emergency accommodation, and 28 single people. Twenty-two of these are men are accommodated in the Good Shepherd. The remainder are six women, who are currently in hotels and B&Bs.

At the September meeting of Kilkenny County Council, acting director of services Simon Walton told members that the new scheme would help eliminate the reliance on emergency accommodation.

“It is for transient accommodation — not for permanent,” he said.

One submission was received during the consultation process for the plan - from residents in a neighbouring property. They expressed concern over a window overlooking their property, issues with maintenance of gutters, and any negative impact the development might have on their residential amenity.

By way of response, the council said it would install obscure glass in the aforementioned windows. It said would address the issue of gutter maintenance and the houses' exterior, and there would be few external changes to the building.

Mr Walton said that if the members decide to proceed, the property would be refurbished over four or five months, and be up and running in the first quarter of next year. Cllr Pat Dunphy asked if the size of the apartments was in keeping with Department specifications.

Mr Walton said the standards pertained to permanent accommodation, and that different specifications applied to existing buildings than to new builds.

Cllr Melissa O’ Neill said she was concerned that the accommodation was being called ‘temporary’.

“With 70% of the housing list looking for one-bed or two-bed, how are we saying its temporary?" she asked.

Mr Walton acknowledged there were cases where ‘temporary’ had become much longer term than intended. He said that the new accommodation would allow people to cook for themselves and wash clothes, which they couldn’t do in hotel or B&B accommodation.

“This development presents an opportunity of five units in Kilkenny City that will avoid the council having to send people to these hotels,” he said.

“But I fully accept it is part of a much bigger solution we are looking at.”

Cllr Breda Gardner said she welcomed the plans.

"It is heartbreaking to see people homeless," she said.

"This is a step in the right direction."

The item was agreed by the members.