Supported housing will help vulnerable students

The first supported-student accommodation complex of its kind in the State will provide vulnerable young adults with a gateway to a new life, Cork’s city councillors say.

They made their comments as they endorsed proposals to develop the new €2.1m project in the western suburbs specifically for young adults at risk of homelessness.

First reported by the Irish Examiner last month, the Bishopsgrove development in Curraheen will provide supported housing for up to 39 young adults aged over 18 who are pursuing third-level education.

The facility has been developed in an existing student accommodation complex off Curraheen Rd.

The council bought the complex with funding from the Department of Local Government, and it has been refurbished to the council’s specifications.

The city’s head of housing, Valerie O’Sullivan, said the project will be managed for the city by the same team which oversees the award-winning Foyer complex in Blackpool — a transitional housing and training centre for clients aged 18 to 25 who were or are at risk of becoming homeless.

The Bishopsgrove facility will be managed along similar lines, with strict tenancy agreements and 24-hour management of the complex. It will house several Foyer clients who are now pursuing third-level education, and as a result, it will free up Foyer beds for new clients in need of help and assistance.

Foyer staff will continue to work with, and support the residents of the new facility through their third-level courses, and help them find suitable, long-term accommodation.

“There will be zero tolerance for misbehaviour which will be in stark contrast to the facility which was there before,” said Ms O’Sullivan.

There was cross-party support for the project at Monday’s city council meeting, led by local councillors John Buttimer (FG), Mary Shields (FF) and Henry Cremin (SF).

Ms Shields said: “Education is the key to success and this project will help young people fulfil their potential.”

SF Cllr Henry Cremin says while some local residents were initially concerned about the project, once the ethos underpinning it, and management structure which will be in place was explained, they now support it: “This project will be a ‘new tool’ to help young people move on to third level.”

Independent Cllr Thomas Maloney said the project will provide a “gateway to a whole new life” for vulnerable young people.

The Foyer in Blackpool was developed more than a decade ago arising out of the city’s Homeless Forum, which identified the need to provide supported accommodation for young homeless people, and to link this accommodation to special programmes designed to equip people with life skills to prepare them for independent living. 

Cork City Council acquired the former Assumption convent complex in 2003, and renovated it. The Foyer was opened in 2006.

Its success over the years is proven by the fact that several clients are now pursuing third-level courses, and are now in need of specific student accommodation.


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