A three-storey former bed and breakfast which was refurbished a decade ago by an addiction treatment charity in order to operate as a step-down facility is to finally open next month after the HSE gave the green light to allocate funds for the project.
Cuan Mhuire which treats people with addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling bought the 16 bedroom house on the Western Road in Cork city for €2.1m in 2007. Their aim was for it to be a supportive environment for people who had left rehab and needed help as they continued their journey to sobriety.
However, Cuan Mhuire had no choice but to put the project on hold because the relevant authorities failed to provide the money to run the facility. It was refurbished in 2008 and lay idle although it was fit for purpose as a step-down facility.
The case was highlighted over the years by Helping Cork's Homeless, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and former Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Fergal Dennehy. Pressure was also exerted on the relevant authorities by members of Fine Gael including the Tanaiste Simon Coveney and Senator Colm Burke.
Senator Burke says they have now secured the €300,000 from the HSE which is necessary to fund the project annually.
Up to now, the HSE and Cork City Council have each side-stepped responsibility for funding the annual cost of the project. The project is in turnkey condition and could start accommodating people almost immediately. Cuan Mhuire runs 99 facilities nationally.
Christina Chalmers, Founder of the Helping Cork's Homeless charity, previously said that it was "sinful" that the building was left idle for so long because of a lack of funding. She said the lack of occupancy was "scandalous" given the homelessness crisis in this country.
Almost half of those who avail of Cuan Mhuire's rehab treatment services have been homeless at the time of admission. Almost a third have nowhere to go once treatment ends.