The pledge came from rehab charity Cuan Mhuire as it temporarily opened the doors of its facility on Cork’s Western Road yesterday to highlight how it could help break the devastating cycle of homelessness.
However, last night, two State agencies both said they are not responsible for providing the required funding to open the former bed and breakfast as a step-down facility.
Cuan Mhuire spokesman Michael Guerin said their message to Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy is simple.
“This facility is one part of the immediate solution to the immediate crisis of homeless,” he said.
“It could be open within six weeks if the Government sanctions its €300,000 annual operating costs. It’s an utter no brainer.
“But it is very disappointing that almost a year into this homeless crisis, there is still no movement on this particular facility.”
The HSE said decisions in relation to homeless services proposals are jointly made by the local authorities and the HSE under the auspices of the Regional Homeless Statutory Management Group (SMG).
“The SMG is chaired by the lead local authority and for the Cork/Kerry Region this is Cork City Council,” a spokesperson said.
“The Cuan Mhuire proposals for Western Road is a matter for the SMG. The HSE remains fully committed to supporting the provision of appropriate services to the homeless in the region.”
Cork City Council said the proposed development is an addiction service, and not a homeless service, and therefore cannot be funded by its housing department.
“This has been confirmed by the Department of Housing. The proposed developers were told this on a number of occasions,” a spokesperson said.
Mr Guerin said the funding impasse means that almost 20 people from the HSE South region, who are nearing the end of a 20-week rehab programme at Cuan Mhuire’s residential facility in Bruree now face a stark choice.
“Once they are finished their rehab programme, they can go into accommodation that is wholly unsuitable to recovery, or they can go homeless,” he said.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who visited the facility yesterday, said he was “absolutely shocked” at the HSE and city council for their “pass-the-parcel approach”.
“It’s unacceptable. It’s not credible,” he said.
“There is an onus on all the agencies to work together, in a multi-disciplinary approach, to provide solutions, and there is an opportunity to provide a solution here through collective action by the agencies.”