Tag Archives: Apollo House

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Meanwhile…

Mmmf.

Previously: Common Sense, Love And Respect

UPDATE:

Home Sweet Home has released the following statement:

Since Home Sweet Home (HSH) was launched, the following has been achieved:

  • No homeless person died on our streets over Christmas 2016, or since.
  • Single-night beds in hostels were turned into minimum six-month beds where wanted by residents.
  • Night-time only beds have been made 24-hour beds.
  • New and specific provision has been made for couples in emergency accommodation.
  • Two new facilities have been gained which will support ‘own key’ independent living for our most vulnerable citizens where appropriate.
  • Residents of Apollo House have enjoyed a warm, happy and special Christmas and New Year thanks to the generosity of the public and volunteers.
  • A new level of public awareness has been brought to this homelessness and housing emergency focussing not just on bed numbers, but on raising the bar on the minimum standards of care available to all homeless people.
  • During the Apollo House occupation, 76 people previously sleeping on our streets have been transitioned into stable beds.

It is regrettable that, in recent days, the State has failed to take this opportunity to publicly support this effort to address a national emergency, instead seeking to deny clear commitments made and to use law to effectively force some people back into unsuitable accommodation for their needs.

This has meant that citizens who are entitled to support services cannot access them in Apollo house due to a court order. This is unsafe and therefore untenable.

Home Sweet Home announced on Monday, January 9, that it is to be a permanent intervention in the nation’s housing policy and discussion. This does not involve forcing people who are in recovery to enter a ‘wet environment’ against their wishes where they are endangered.

Accordingly, Home Sweet Home, as a public campaign, will house those currently in Apollo House elsewhere until Minister [for Housing, Simon] Coveney and the support services deliver what they committed to last Friday, January 6 – the short and long-term needs of residents being met according to their needs.

Home Sweet Home will not be making these locations public in the interest of residents’ privacy but details will be provided to support services so that all supports will be available.

Home Sweet Home will ensure that all of the matters agreed with Minister Coveney will be delivered and will continue its campaign to deliver on its Emergency Housing Plan published on January 5, 2017.

Via Sean Defoe

Pics: Rollingnews

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Rosi Leonard, of Home Sweet Home and the Irish Housing Network

This afternoon.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy spoke to Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio One.

During the interview they discussed the occupation of Apollo House.

At one point, Rosi Leonard, of the Irish Housing Network and Home Sweet Home campaign, joined the show by phone.

From their discussion:

Ray D’Arcy (to Rosi Leonard): “You’ve definitely got more coverage for the homelessness situation in Ireland, than anybody else has in a long time. What’s the end game?… Or what’s the end game?”

Rosi Leonard: “The end game, the long game, is that we end this housing crisis. And that’s beyond Apollo House, that’s the intention of Home Sweet Home, it’s the intention of the Irish Housing Network. The current game… I mean Apollo House should never have to be the answer. But Apollo House is a massive, vacant building – one of thousands – in our country. And it was a very practical intervention. It was very much an intervention to ensure dignity. And we created a standard in Apollo House that now Government are saying that they can’t do. And we’re a group of volunteers who did it in three weeks. It was more out of common sense and love and respect to the community, that we created those standards. Not any of this bureaucratic nonsense that they keep throwing back at us.”

“The short-term goal is that the people of Apollo House are housing in suitable conditions and that they see this, the Government see that they cannot disrespect and disempower people. People are empowered now, they have a voice. And we want that to continue.”

D’Arcy: “We’ve been talking to Sr Stan for the last half an hour or so and we mentioned that she’s been working with the homeless for the last, over 50 years. Sr Stan, would you like to say anything to Rosi there?”

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy: “Well, I think the aim is laudable, to end the housing crisis. Because it is a scandal. However, I think, I would prefer to see them stick, do it within the law. And I would encourage them to do that, do it within the law.”

Leonard: “But how many times has Government defied the law by letting people die on our streets? I mean that’s really what this comes down to. We talk about the law and yet, where are we prosecuting Minister Simon Coveney for not doing anything about the housing crisis that is now seeing 60 families every month living in a hotel.”

I have met children, through the Irish Housing Network, who are six years old, being treated for depression because of the way they feel in these hotels, the way they see their lives panning out. And all I would say to that, is that we need to actually look at ourselves now as a country and say what are we willing to accept because right now it seems that we are willing to roll over.”

Kennedy: “No, I know all that. I think we’ve been on record several times talking about the situation of families, and particularly children – the 2,500 children – who are in emergency accommodation at this moment. All I’m saying is, I would prefer to work within the law. Keep at it but I think your campaign has drawn attention to it and well done on that.”

Listen back in full here

Meanwhile…

A skeletal timeline on various recent campaigns to end homelessness in Ireland…

July 1998: Sr Stanislaus Kennedy writes a letter to The Irish Times saying an unprecedented Exchequer surplus of over 1.2 billion pounds, announced a week previous, could enable the State to end homelessness. She said in 1997, 877 people under the age of 18 used the services of Focus Ireland – up from 352 in 1994.

July, 2001: A three-year plan to end homelessness in Cork is announced. The strategy is called Homelessness – An Integrated Strategy for Cork 2001-2003 and the Southern Health Board announces that 600,000 pounds will be distributed to different voluntary organisations, including Cork Simon Community, St Vincent de Paul and Good Shepherd Services. It’s reported that up 350 homeless people seek shelter in Cork city every night while up to 20 sleep rough.

2002: The official homeless figure in Ireland is recorded as being 5,581.

October 2003: It’s reported that begging and street drinking in Dublin city centre has almost been eradicated as a result of a programme in place since July – operated by Dublin City Council, gardaí and the health services.

It’s reported:

“Parnell Square to St Stephen’s Green has been designated a ‘public domain zone’ as part of the programme. As well as 2,800 arrests in the area, including 70 for begging, there has been a programme to help people access accommodation, health services and addiction treatments.”

An Independent Dublin City Councillor, Ger Dorgan, is reported as saying the initiative was an attempt by the council to “sanitise” Dublin city in advance of Ireland hosting the European presidency in 2004.

February 2004: At the Simon (Community) National Conference in Dublin, the director of the six Simon Communities in Ireland, Conor Hickey, says Ireland is poised to “make a real breakthrough in the fight to end homelessness”.

He says if if the annual bonus on the Special Savings Incentive Accounts (SSIA) scheme was reduced from 25 per cent to 24 per cent €21million more would be available to the Exchequer and could be used to end homelessness.

May 2004: The Cork Simon Community AGM is told more than 100 people, between the age of 16 and 25, are homeless in Cork while, in total, 500 people are homeless.

The charity launches a €21million four-year action plan and pledges to raise more than €7million from its own fundraising activities to go towards the cost of the plan.

December 2005: It’s reported that the government is more than 20,000 social housing units short of its social housing target set out in the National Development Plan; and that it has yet to respond to the National Economic and Social Council recommendation that 10,000 – 12,000 social housing units should be made available between now and 2012.

June 2006: Simon Community Ireland launches its three-year strategic plan, Ending Homelessness, Creating Homes. In an article in The Irish Times, Anne Connolly, chair of the Simon Community of Ireland, writes:

“Simon estimates that the provision of high-quality accommodation in the private rented sector – with a support worker – would cost €12,000 in a year. The average cost of hospital psychiatric care is €120,000 a year. To provide the same person with supported housing in a community environment would cost €40,000.”

Ms Connolly is also reported as saying that, while Simon did not have any official data or figures, it has seen an increase in the number of individuals from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia sleeping rough.

October 2006: Focus Ireland, the Simon Communities, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Threshold launch their Make Room campaign, calling on the Government to end homelessness by 2010.

They also call for the provision of 10,000 social and affordable housing units every year to 2010 and €2 billion being put into the National Development Plan.

January 2007: It’s reported that there are 6,000 homeless people across Ireland with 80 per cent of these people living in Dublin.

Vincent Browne, Brian Ormond, Caroline Morahan, and Eamonn and Brian Fallon, of daft.ie, lend their support for the Make Room campaign, urging members of the public to sign an online petition.

February 2007: Ahead of the general election in May, the leader of the Labour Party Pat Rabbitte says, in a pre-election speech:

“When we build houses we must also build sustainable communities. My firm commitment for change is Labour’s new ‘begin to buy’ scheme for affordable homes in good neighbourhoods.”

“We will also legislate to protect the consumer rights of home buyers, to regulate management companies and estate agents, and to control management charges. We will end homelessness and reform the planning system to better serve communities.”

May 2007: General election takes place with Fianna Fáil returning 77 seats (down 4); Fine Gael 51 (up 20); Labour 20 (no change); Green Party 6 (no change); Sinn Fein 4 (down 1) the Progressive Democrats 2 (down 6).

June 2007: A Fianna Fáil, Green Party and Progressive Democrats majority coalition government – supported by four Independent TDs – is formed.

July 2007: The charities behind the Make Room campaign call on the parties in the newly formed Government to honour their pre-election pledge to end homelessness by 2010.

October 2007: In a pre-Budget submission to the Minister for Finance Brian Cowen, the Simon Communities of Ireland calls on the Government to increase its funding for services for homeless people by 5 per cent and invest €2.5billion in new social housing units over 2008. This does not happen.

December 2007: In its annual review for 2006, the Simon Communities of Ireland said 55 people, who used Simon’s services in 2006, had died.

The average age of those who died was 42. Of the 55 who died, 25 died in Cork, four in Dundalk, eight in Galway and 18 in Dublin. The general cause of death was “ill health”.

August 2008: The Government announces a four-year strategy to end long-term homelessness, called The Way Home: A Strategy to Address Adult Homelessness in Ireland 2008-2013.

The 83-page document emphasises the use of private-rented accommodation over emergency hostel beds.

Housing Minister Michael Finneran vows that, by 2010, no homeless person will be sleeping rough or staying in emergency accommodation for more than six months.

It’s also reported:

“About 40 key services for homeless people which were due to come on stream this year have been shelved due to a funding freeze (at €33million, same as 2007) imposed by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

“Homeless agencies in Dublin and Cork say they are turning away dozens of homeless people as a result of their emergency beds being used to capacity.”

In addition, it’s reported that an implementation plan [including in regards to funding], to accompany the strategy, may not be ready “for some months’.

It’s reported that around 5,000 people in Ireland are homeless, 43,000 households are on local authority housing lists and 36,000 children live in families on social housing waiting lists.

October 2008: Simon Communities of Ireland claims that, in Dublin alone, there are 10,000 unsold private units, almost half of which have two bedrooms, and calls on the Government to buy some of these properties in order to provide accommodation for homeless people.

September 2010: It’s reported that the number of people sleeping rough and using emergency homeless services in Dublin has risen by 20 per cent over the past 18 months – from 812 people per month in 2009 to 908 per month, during the second quarter, in 2010.

December 2010: As the Government fails to reach its goal of ending long-term homeless by 2010, Kerry Anthony, of DePaul Ireland, is reported as saying:

I’ve been saying for some time now that I don’t think we really understand the full impact the recession is going to have on homelessness.”

The figures haven’t fluctuated much to date but we know there are an awful lot of people defaulting on their mortgage repayments, we know about 90,000 people are defaulting on electric payments and 23,000 on their gas payments.”

February 2011: General election takes place with Fine Gael taking 76 seats (up 25); Labour 37 (up 17); Fianna Fáil 20 (down 57); Sinn Fein 14 (up 10), Socialist Party 2 (up 2); People Before Profit 2 (up 2); Workers and Unemployed Action 1 (up 1); Green Party 2 (down 6). Fine Gael and Labour formed a coalition government.

February 2013: The Government sets 2016 as the target for ending long-term homelessness.

The Irish Independent reports:

The Government has vowed to eradicate long-term homelessness by the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

“The strategy will revolve around property leasing rather than purchases, access to NAMA housing stock and fast-tracking homeless people from emergency shelters to special transitional housing.”

“Housing Minister Jan O”Sullivan defended the new strategy and its 2016 target as achievable despite the fact the former Fianna Fail-led government failed to deliver the same target with greater resources by 2011.”

Previously: Chain Reaction

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

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Apollo House

There’s a temple to the sun god
On Dublin’s darkest street
We cleared it out, we’re knocking it
And building something sleek

But they came from the shadows
On Dublin’s darkest street
And opened empty chambers
So they could bless the meek

I wake up in Rathfarnham
The light blows cold from Wicklow hills
And no one chokes and vomits
In doorways during winter chills

I’m not a social worker
I don’t understand the facts
I don’t know if this will work
But I’ll salute the acts

Of those who clear the temples
Of rotting gods and greed
And in that place put beds and books
Give people what they need.

There’s a temple to the future
Where a sun begins to rise
As fine a gesture of this clan
As Dublin could devise.

 John Moynes

Earlier: Chain Reaction

Thanks Frankie

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

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This afternoon.

On Tara Street, Dublin 2.

Dublin Live tweetz:

Drivers passing by #ApolloHouse are being asked to #HonkForTheHomeless

Meanwhile…

Free at 8pm?

Earlier: Chain Reaction

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Apollo House this afternoon

RTE reports:

The High Court has refused to grant an extension for a stay on its order to vacate Apollo House in Dublin.

The judge said the provision of suitable alternative accommodation was a matter for Government not the courts.

The case returns to court tomorrow to see if the order has been complied with.

…Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said it was not the function of the courts to become involved in the provision of suitable accommodation for homeless people.

He said the occupants of Apollo House were entitled to take legal proceedings under the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said the issue before the court involves the right to ownership of private property.

High Court refuses extension to Apollo House occupiers (RTE)

Thanks Aaron

Meanwhile…

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In response to the decision in the High Court…

Supporters of the Home Sweet Home campaign have linked arms and surrounded the Apollo House building.

Pic: Joyce Fegan and Fergal O’Brien

Video: Mick Caul

Previously: Alternative Accommodation

UPDATE:

Rosi Leonard, of Home Sweet Home, responds to Mr Justice Paul Gilligan’s decision.

Via Mick Caul

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A new banner on Apollo House this morning.

Further to eight residents returning to Apollo House yesterday because the accommodation offered to them by Dublin City Council was unsuitable to their needs.

Causing a collapse in the agreement reached between the Home Sweet Home campaigners and Minister for Housing Simon Coveney…

Home Sweet Home writes:

“At 10.30am this morning, the Home Sweet Home legal team are going into the High Court to seek an extension to the stay placed by Judge Gilligan on his order to vacate Apollo House on January 11. The stay is due to expire today, January 11, at midday.

“Despite great efforts by the Home Sweet Home collective and, despite assurances given by Minister [for Housing] Simon Coveney at recent negotiations, it has not been possible to secure adequate alternative accommodation catering for the short and long-term needs of the residents of Apollo House.

“It is imperative therefore to seek an extension to the stay until safe and adequate alternative accommodation is secured for the residents of Apollo House.

“It may be necessary as part of the application to Judge Gilligan to join Minister Coveney to the proceedings.

Apollo House and Home Sweet Home campaigners are calling on public support to join them outside Apollo House from 11am today, Wednesday, January 11, as they defend the gains of this campaign and the basic right to a home.”

Home Sweet Home

Meanwhile…

One Home Sweet Home supporter sings a song ahead of today’s proceedings…

Via Justin McCarthy

Previously: ‘Home Sweet Home Will Only Leave When Residents’ Needs Are Met’

‘Judgements In Favour Of Vulture Funds Will Explode In 2017’

Update:
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213

Apollo House at 11.14am.

Thanks Aaron

UPDATE:

UPDATE:

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Apollo House, Tara Street, Dublin 2

Further to the agreement reached between the Home Sweet Home campaigners and the Minister for Housing Simon Coveney…

The Irish Housing Network writes:

The Home Sweet Home Campaign is growing increasingly concerned about the government’s commitment to honour the terms of the agreement reached between Minister Simon Coveney and Home Sweet Home.

Recent statements from the minister, coupled with feedback from Apollo residents who had recently been placed in substandard accommodation; have introduced doubt into the proceedings.

The agreement reached yesterday resulting from lengthy negotiations, set out the terms by which Home Sweet Home and the Department of Housing would amicably conclude the occupation of Apollo House, and take serious measures to address the housing emergency.

Eight residents have returned to Apollo House in the past 24 hours distressed that the accommodation offered to them by DCC were completely unsuitable to their needs.

Drugs and alcohol were being used in the facilities offered, which represents a clear failure to meet the specific needs of those residents, and constitutes a failure to meet the terms of the agreement .

As one former resident of Apollo stated of the type of accommodation he is currently in:

“No keys, no food, no washing machine, no wardrobe, people getting drunk, injecting and smoking heroin in rooms, not possible to sleep due to music and shouting till 4am, phones getting robbed, vomit in the hallways, needles everywhere, atmosphere on the verge of explosion of violence, gang threatening to stomp another resident soon.”

The Minister’s statements undermining the provision of two new buildings has also raised serious concerns as to the good faith of the agreements made at the negotiation table.

It was agreed that two new buildings, additional to the ones announced by Dublin City Council on their website on November 30, 2016, were committed to by Coveney in the negotiations, and the minimum standards in Apollo House would be the new benchmark for these two new additional facilities.

The Minister for Housing is downplaying the significant achievement reached by a citizens’ intervention in the worst housing crisis the state has ever seen.

In doing so, the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in society are being ignored.

Home Sweet Home member Tommy Gavin said:

“Yesterday we reached an agreement with Coveney and we intend on holding him to his agreement. However, the Government cannot accept the precedent that has been set by direct action. They are claiming that all these changes that have been enforced already existed, contrary to Dublin City Council and Peter McVerry Trust claiming otherwise. Is this what Government negotiations and mutual agreements amount to?”

Home Sweet Home will, as per the agreement, only leave when the residents’ needs have been met.

The long and short-term needs of the residents, as of this evening, have not been met and only when they have been met will the residents and Home Sweet Home be leaving Apollo House.

Response To Coveney’s Undermining His Commitments To Home Sweet Home (Irish Housing Network)

Earlier: The House Wins

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Rory Hearne (left) with Apollo volunteers Anne Farrelly, Emily Duffy, Tommy Gavin (back)

Keep her lit.

Dr Rory Hearne writes:

The Apollo House occupation has achieved significant commitments from the Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, to improve homelessness services and provide decent accommodation for Apollo residents

These achievements show that the Apollo House occupation has been an incredible victory for citizen’s power.

The Home Sweet Home campaign has lit a new flame of hope in Ireland that everyone can and should have the right to an affordable and secure home.

Apollo House marks the point at which ordinary citizens have said ‘no more’ and ‘enough’ of this shameful housing crisis.

The citizens have declared that the homelessness crisis is not acceptable and it is a national emergency.

Home Sweet Home, through the Apollo House action, have mobilised the support of the majority of people of Ireland, to state clearly to the government and Dublin City Council – that they are not doing enough and that citizens are going to take direct action where the state fails – and that citizens will monitor and pressure the Government until everyone has the dignity of a home.

Specifically, the Home Sweet Home campaign has secured accommodation for its homeless residents and that “the short, medium and long term needs, including care plans for all current Apollo House residents, will be met according to their needs”.

They also secured the commitment by Government of the provision of two new additional facilities addressing the homelessness emergency (at an investment of €4million).

Importantly, they have also raised the bar “on the agreed minimum standards” for emergency accommodation as these facilities, the campaign states, “will include residents having their “own key” to a place they can call home”.

This minimum standard will also be achieved “with the direct participation of residents” and include units suitable for single persons and couples”.

Dublin City Council and the Peter McVerry Trust have told Home Sweet Home that the extra beds in new hostels are now six-month beds with 24-hour access as a result of the campaign.

The Minister for Housing has also guaranteed that there will be no families in commercial accommodation (hotels or B&Bs) by 1st July 2017.

They also achieved the rollout of community-based homeless services which can address the major challenges faced by families facing homelessness and lack of services in local communities.

As the campaign explains,

“Home Sweet Home has achieved an enormous amount in a very short period of time. This is down to the profound outpouring of public support for the campaign with more than 2,500 people volunteering their time and services along with donations of food, clothing, beds and more than €160,000 in funds. It has facilitated the assessment of 72 individuals by homeless services with 42 people moving into six-month beds…and helped more than 200 people to access a secure bed through the homeless Freephone number.”

Speaking at the Home Sweet Home press conference yesterday – where these achievements were outlined – spokesperson Aisling Hedderman explained how Apollo House has given homeless people a sense of dignity and raised the bar of what is acceptable in terms of emergency accommodation.

She said:

“The Home Sweet Home intervention allowed the homeless to have their voices heard and it allowed the public backing of them…it has given them a new chance at life…The homeless in Apollo have smiles on their faces. They are different people – accessing education and looking to get jobs. They have been given a chance. They thought that society had forgotten about them but the campaign showed that we haven’t forgotten about them.”

Aisling explained that she has been a housing activist with the North Dublin Bay Housing group where they had “screamed and shouted and occupied and had sit-ins to try have the voices of the most vulnerable heard – because they are not heard in public policy”.

But Apollo House has achieved a “victory” as “their voices are being heard”.

At the press conference Home Sweet Home spokesperson Brendan Ogle explained that Apollo House “is just the beginning” as Home Sweet Home “will be a permanent intervention in the nation’s housing policy and discussion”.

To do this, they are opening a permanent Dublin support, advice and activist centre assisting people with their housing information needs. The campaign is also taking a legal challenge arguing that the 1937 Constitution contains within it a right to housing.

They are going to have regular monthly meetings with Dublin City Council and other local authorities to review and assess housing and homelessness policies, particularly the issues of “hidden homelessness”.

The other really vital achievement of Home Sweet Home is the highlighting of NAMA’s role in worsening the crisis and its potential role in addressing it.

The campaign still awaits a response to their letter from the Minister for Finance where they called on the Minister to prioritise NAMA’s social mandate over its mandate to “maximise financial return” and to use NAMA’s land and buildings to address the crisis.

NAMA’s end-of-year review, released last week, again showed the potential role that NAMA could be playing in providing affordable housing (it showed NAMA has €2billion in cash reserves and will be building the 20,000 houses on a “commercial” basis, i.e. pushing up prices to sell to vultures) but because it is focused on maximising a commercial return it is selling its land and property assets to vulture funds and property investors.

After Apollo ends, it is vital to keep the focus on NAMA and the fact that it still can play a major role in addressing the crisis by using its land and cash reserves to build upwards of 20,000 social and affordable housing – not selling it to the vultures and property investors.

This year NAMA expects to build 3,500 houses – these should all be sold for social and affordable housing to local authorities and housing associations. This needs to be monitored closely.

The continuation and expansion of Home Sweet Home is essential because the harsh reality is that the housing crisis is going to worsen.

The homelessness crisis is just the tip of the iceberg of a wider housing crisis where hundreds of thousands of families and individuals are in circumstances of housing distress – unable to afford their mortgage or rent and facing potential eviction and repossession.

Vulture funds are circling – as the RTE documentary The Great Irish Sell Off showed last night, they have bought up 90,000 properties and are holding almost €10.3billion worth of assets in Ireland.

They will evict to get in higher paying tenants or repossess and sell houses in mortgage arrears.

There are 90,000 households on social housing waiting lists and 35,000 families in two years or more of arrears on their mortgage.

And, alongside this, we have the Government consistently refusing to act in ways that could address the crisis – by providing proper security of tenure for private tenants, by funding the construction of social and affordable housing on a massive scale and by stopping NAMA selling its land and property to vulture funds and using it instead to provide social and affordable housing.

There is, as Fr Peter McVerry has said before, “a tsunami of homelessness” on its way.

And it needs to be remembered. We have been here before with this, and other, governments making big promises to solve the homelessness and housing crisis.

But the Government and Irish state should not see the ending of the Apollo House occupation as a signal to ‘return to business as usual’, ignoring the humanitarian crisis and focusing on rising property prises and subsidising private investment.

The Apollo occupation and Home Sweet Home mark a very significant transformation in the politics of housing in Ireland. Prior to this it was housing charities, NGOs and a small number of housing activist groups, academics and politicians that were raising the severity of the housing crisis.

Home Sweet Home has brought it to another political level – the majority of the Irish people have been mobilised in support behind a new coalition of activists, trade unions and artists who are espousing the need to deliver a right to a home for all.

As Brendan Ogle explained, there has been a realisation amongst people that “all of us have to step out of our silos and work in a unified way”.

And the groups and individuals involved are no longer just pointing to someone else and saying ‘that is your job to solve the crisis’ – they are now stepping up and seeing that it is all our job to take action.

Ogle highlighted that “we as a nation had crossed the threshold of decency and we had gone too far” and the Home Sweet Home campaign “has shown that it has a power to force change in the area of housing and homelessness”.

It is this power – the power of direct citizen-led action of practical humanitarian solidarity with the homeless (not just protesting but actually stepping in and providing a solution), and the unprecedented public mobilisation of support behind it, that is at the heart of why the Apollo House action and the Home Sweet Home campaign has been so successful – and why it is so vital to be continued in various forms in the coming months and years.

It was only such a high-profile action undertaken by this broad societal coalition that managed to raise sufficient awareness and focus public and political attention on this unprecedented housing crisis.

And that broad coalition has the potential to end homelessness and the broader housing crisis – by extending to every corner and community of Ireland – by mobilising every citizen affected and every citizen who cares, and bringing it together into a mass movement of community and solidarity demanding the right to a home for all.

Home Sweet Home has started the movement.

They have lit the flame.

It’s up to all of us to take up that flame for a right to a decent and affordable home for all and carry it forward – in our homes, families, in our communities, our workplaces, our towns and cities and make it real. It is possible.

We are the only limitation to its achievement. We can do it. Just imagine it – if Ireland was known around the world – as the country that actually delivered a human right to a home for all its people.

Wouldn’t it be incredible?

The country that emerged from famine and evictions – that resisted through peasants’ land leagues and revolution – only to collapse, over a hundred years later, back into evictions, homelessness and a new form of colonialism, the takeover by speculative vulture funds.

Imagine this little country finally managing to realise its people’s long-held historical dream for justice and equality.

Apollo has begun that journey of moving from the dream of a right to a home for all – towards achieving the reality.

As Aisling Hedderman so eloquently put it: “We can do this – we can continue this. It’s only the start. It’s not the end. Apollo house is only a building but Home Sweet Home is a community. It’s a community that we want to see in all our communities – we want our voices heard and we will continue to do so.”

Home Sweet Home are inviting the public to join them at 12 noon tomorrow at Apollo House for a ‘Victory March’ “to celebrate our first step towards ending homelessness. Everyone that has been involved and that supported us in this movement, join us on the streets to help celebrate a victory we all should be proud of. Solidarity marches will take place in Kildare and Belfast at noon and Cork at 10am.

Dr Rory Hearne is a policy analyst, academc, social justice campaigner. He writes here in a personal capacity. Follow Rory on Twitter: @roryhearne

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