On Thursday 12 January at 10am the majority of the remaining Apollo House residents and volunteers vacated the building. This move was extremely difficult, but necessary. The Apollo House project has always been affected-led, meaning that decisions are made with those most affected by homelessness at the heart of the process. All decisions in Home Sweet Home are made collectively and everyone involved has an equal voice. After a lengthy process the decision was made to vacate the building. This decision was made by the residents themselves and was necessary to secure the residents’ safety, as they could not access proper health and support services on site due to the court order. They are currently being rehoused at the expense of the Home Sweet Home Campaign until the government can meet its side of the deal struck in negotiations to provide safe, secure and appropriate homes for them. The last resident left Apollo House this evening, and is being supported to find safe and secure accommodation that suits their needs. We ask that they be given the privacy they need to move forward in the coming days and weeks.
Home Sweet Home spokesperson Freda Hughes said, “The life of a homeless person in Ireland is brutal enough without the stress of being forcibly put out on the street while temperatures drop below freezing. Therefore, HSH were left with no option but to move our residents to a more secure location where they can have their individual needs assessed and addressed in a calm and dignified manner. The government has used the law as a blunt instrument to bludgeon the most vulnerable people in Irish society by entering into negotiations in bad faith and waiting for the Department of Justice to do their dirty work. HSH (IHN) will continue to take the well-being of all affected by homelessness and the ever growing housing crisis as our primary concern.”
The group intend to continue to work directly with former residents to ensure their needs are being met and offer them support and assistance in building on the progress made in Apollo House. They are calling on people to share their experiences and photos of homeless accommodation in order to promote minimum standards and create a peer review forum for those using the services. They are also continuing their Outreach programme which sees them deliver care packages of sleeping bags, warm clothes and food to those sleeping on the streets several nights a week. HSH is also a campaigning group who are calling for increased building of social housing units to the tune of 10,000 per year for the next 10 years and a more meaningful contribution from NAMA towards tackling the crisis.
Ms. Hughes continued, “The Home Sweet Home Project centred around respect and dignity for all and is about empowering people. Where the state will not intervene, its people will and in this case people from all sectors of society have come together to fight for the right to a home, a right that this state does not fully recognise. With less than 300 social housing units built last year and the Minister for Finance saying that, while NAMA will provide 20,000 houses over the coming years, only 10% of them will be used as social housing, in the middle of the worst housing crisis ever experienced by this state, it is imperative that people stand together and fight for a fair and equitable housing policy which leaves no one behind.”