Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy urged to help open stepdown facility

A rehab charity has called on Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to intervene to help open a stepdown facility which has been lying idle for a decade.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy urged to help open stepdown facility

Cuan Mhuire urged Mr Murphy to facilitate a meeting between it, Cork City Council, and the HSE to ensure funding can be found to open the 16-bed former B&B on Cork’s Western Rd, which is designed to break the cycle of homelessness. It follows Mr Murphy’s assertion that such issues are “not difficult problems to solve”.

“If there is funding there for a project that we know can deliver good in the community, and if we know we can do that, we just need to join up things better to make it happen more quickly,” said Mr Murphy.

The minister was speaking in Cork after being quizzed about the funding standoff which has resulted in the premises lying idle since it was bought by the charity in 2007 for use by people who have completed its residential treatment programme.

Cuan Mhuire spokesman Michael Guerin said it would provide a conducive environment to help its clients continue their recovery: “Currently, we have 20 people from the HSE South region who have nowhere to go post-treatment.

“In the absence of a facility like this, the likelihood is that these people will end up in an environment which is wholly unsuited to recovery. It could be an emergency homeless shelter, it could be a home or neighbourhood where substance misuse is a problem, or it could be life on the streets. And then it’s back to square one.”

Mr Guerin said such a facility could be one part of the immediate solution to the homeless crisis, and that the complex could be operational within six weeks if the State sanctions €300,000 annual operational costs.

The HSE says it is a matter for a regional housing task-force chaired by Cork City Council, which says the facility is an addiction service, not a homeless service, and therefore cannot be funded by its housing department.

Mr Murphy declined to be drawn on the specific issues linked to the Cuan Mhuire project, but said: “We need to co-ordinate our services to make sure that these types of things aren’t happening, that we aren’t having unnecessary delays, or things aren’t falling between two stools. And that’s the importance of co-ordinating our work — not just between the different departments and different services, but also between central government and the local authorities who are doing the work on the ground.”

Mr Murphy said he had recently established an inter-agency group to address such issues.

Mr Guerin said the time has come for the minister to use the powers of his office to resolve the Western Rd situation. He said: “This is an immediate proven, solution-focused initiative for homeless people with substance misuse. I would ask the Minister to convene that meeting with the aim of getting this project off the ground for the good of the homeless of Cork City.”

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