Aye, There’s The Hub


The former B & B in  St Lawrence Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3 purchased by Dublin City Council last December to remodel as a family hub for 13 families

Millions have been spent on one house to cater for emergency accommodation.

So why does it resemble a building site?

A St Lawrence Road Resident writes:

On December 16, 2016, a B&B on St Lawrence Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3 was purchased for the Homeless Executive of Dublin City Council.

The transaction was rushed. No survey was done. Neither Councillors nor St. Lawrence Road residents were consulted. Planning Permission was not sought.

All because the Homeless Executive was determined to respond – swiftly and decisively – to Minister Simon Coveney’s directive about moving families out of hotels and B&Bs.

However, transformation of the houses into a “Family Hub” – only began in mid-April 2017.

Admittedly, since then the pace of work has been relentless. Builders and sub-contractors have laboured to adapt the houses to suit the needs of 13 families.

But work has been disrupted by the discovery of numerous, serious defects.

Residents warnings – that Victorian, terraced houses are, structurally and environmentally, unsuitable for Family Hub use – had been ignored by DCC.

With an unlimited budget and no accountability to elected representative, officials have discovered, the “hard way”, that such warnings were fully justified….

…which brings us to this picture (above) taken on September 10 –  nine months after the purchase of the houses. €3 million – allocated to helping the homeless – has been squandered on the effective destruction of two houses, in an area zoned for preservation.

Not one homeless family has been sheltered. €3 million could have bought ten semidetached homes, or fifteen apartments, ready for immediate occupation. But those in charge of public money are not very practical, or competent.

So, the Homelessness Crisis will be with us for a very long time.

Previously: There Goes The Neighbourhood

Pics via author

63 thoughts on “Aye, There’s The Hub

  1. Donal

    I have no idea if the facts as stated by the local resident are true.

    Where did they get word of “numerous, serious defects”?
    How is it that the residents knew in advance that the houses were structurally unsuited, and thus were able to make warnings?
    How does he know that the above facts are the reason building work is still ongoing?

    Can any of these be backed up with evidence? Or are they just ramblings from a disgruntled resident who doesn’t want their street used to house a “homeless hub”…

    1. martco

      If you’ve even tried to hang so much as a shelf in one of these type of houses it’s nearly an engineering project

      Victorian era gaffs are an utter pain in the hole to work on….you’re dealing with 19th century building technology in a lot of cases crumbling rot and/or just about sitting there. usually also major plumbing and electrical…even the better ones usually have also gathered bodges and fixes over the years e.g. from the likes of the1950’s which may as well have been done in the 1850’s

      Attic conversions or extensions? Forget it unless you have a large pile of cash and time to throw at it.

      Lovely to look at but they’re a black hole

      Even if I had the money I wouldn’t…heartbreakers

  2. Fact Checker

    No firm evidence presented that the money has been wasted and/or will not provide the required housing for families.

    There is a clear need for this kind of facility. Families in urban areas are always going to fall into short-term homelessness for short periods. In good times and bad.

    I would like to see the numbers, but I would expect that this kind of facility will give DCC better value for money than the current approach of paying for B&B accommodation. The area is also pretty safe and a better environment for children than B&Bs in the inner city.

  3. Yeah, Ok

    I’ve been saying this all along. There has been gross mismanagement of funds for homelessness from all parties involved for as long as there has been an organised homeless industry. You can be damn sure many, many people have been skimming money off this with handy contracts and cumbersome admin crap.

    Our homeless problem is eminently fixable but for the grubby fingers reaching for the pie. Put politics and vested interests aside and put some of our annual billions allocated to homelessness towards actually fixing the problem and we’ll see major changes. And BUILD SOME BLOODY SOCIAL HOUSES!!

    1. Donal

      I agree that houses need to be built.
      This is not the job of the homeless executive.
      Government needs to organise the building (via distributing funds to councils etc)
      The homeless exec have a function, which is to find some accommodation for people who are currently homeless. Whether or not this purchase was the wisest use of their funds I do not know.
      But they have to house people somewhere until new builds are completed in large numbers

      1. Yeah, Ok

        It’s not the job of the homeless executive to build houses, but it is their job to get the best value possible for our money. €3m for two houses, even in one of the most sought after areas of Dublin, is not getting value for money. In fact it’s absolutely outrageous. And that was just the purchase price; going by the works pictured here that could probably double.
        This carefree attitude to our limited resources is keeping us in the situation we’re in. If there’s no accountability in the civil service for our money how can we expect any of them to fix this?
        As I keep saying over and over again, spending a 6 figure sum per person every single year is simply ludicrous. There is no will to correct that, evidently.

        1. Donal

          We are in agreement on much.
          I don’t know if it’s getting value for money? If, at the end of the process, some families who are currently in hotel rooms are housed in this hub, and there is no prospect of a permanent home being found for them for 2/3/4 years due to not enough houses being built, and they report that the mental well being of all in the family was massively improved in this place over the hotel.. I don’t know how the value of that is measured?

          1. Yeah, Ok

            There is absolutely no measure, outside of possibly the opinion of the individuals eventually housed here, that this is value for money. The people we house and feed and satisfy here aren’t even out of the system, they’re still homeless and they still have nowhere to go long term; how is this justifiable? Presumably as these units are for families it is a fairly simple case of needing a house to live in rather than drugs/alcohol/mental health issues? We managed to buy this house, why couldn’t we have bought more sensibly? For me the value of our housing policy is measured by the amount of people who we permanently remove from homeless services, be they family hubs or soup runs or whatever. Spending up to 200k a year on a single homeless person and STILL not managing to remove them from the system is a spectacular failure by any metric.

          2. Donal

            I agree with the 200k spend being an outrageous waste.
            But why has governemnt policy not been to spend that money on building houses for the past 6 years. They were warned by experts that this crisis was coming. They did nothing.
            I’ guess I’m really saying that I find it hard to blame the homeless exec for doing what they can with the money they have today to try and offer something better for the increasing numbers knocking on their door every day, when they have been landed in it by government.
            The mess isn’t their fault. Fixing it isn’t their responsibility. They can only make decisions in a hurry because what they need done needs to be done yesterday, and in these circumstances it is inevitable that not every decision will prove to be the correct one.

        2. Donal

          Also, the pity of all of this is that the crisis nature of the crisis reduces the ability to spend ages and ages making decisions. They have been given money to help people in crisis. If some of that money is squandered in ways that had valid good intent but turned out not to have been optimum, i think they can be forgiven. When gov can give them less money, cos crisis has eased, cos gov have spent sensible money on long-term fixes for the problem, then they can relax on the crisis decision making

    2. Catherinecostelloe

      I totally agree….I read of 40 homeless charities operating? Can this be true?! Why not give families in hotels a financial incentive to move out of Dublin and free travel passes for a years years so they can visit their family left behind in Dublin. It would save some of the 50 million down the drain at the moment on hotels. Think what’s BEST for your children !!!!

      1. Yeah, Ok

        You could buy a homeless family a four bed house within commuting distance of Dublin, give them 100k in their bank account, buy them a brand new car, and still save on the annual per person homeless spend.

  4. Yowzah

    former Longfields site off Baggot St – building site still continuing, they’re spending a fortune getting the pointing done between the bricks – cos that’s important. Priorities are arseways and budgets obviously balooning

    1. Donal

      Yeah, it’s terrible that buildings are built to a high standard, throw em up cheap and let em burn down later is a better plan… (see Priory Hall and other deficient buildings for example)

      1. Yowzah

        think we were highlighting wasteful inefficiencies slowing down housing the homeless, and an innate inability to manage costings.
        Feel free to dive off into the deep end though Donal

        1. Vote Rep #1

          Its a listed building. The rules have to be followed for listed buildings regardless of what they are for. If they didn’t want to spend an age of small things, they shouldn’t have bought a huge listed building.

    2. Mysterybeat

      The pointing between bricks is what makes the wall watertight. You’d be complaining a whole lot more if they didn’t bother making the building watertight, and the place was a mess a week after they finished work.

  5. Tucker Done

    If someone had the time to identify the previous owner who sold the property the reason for this might become clearer

        1. Catherinecostelloe

          You go into detached building , past reception, into property record office. You fill out form of address ( previous owner helpful) , a waiting clerk takes your request and viola! Its a public service.

  6. Brother Barnabas

    “Residents warnings… had been ignored by DCC”

    Perhaps because DCC were of the view that the residents weren’t exactly impartial and objective in their assessment of the property’s suitability.

  7. Ronan

    “€3 million could have bought ten semidetached homes, or fifteen apartments, ready for immediate occupation”

    The St Lawrence Road Resident forgot the words “somewhere else” in this sentence, which is, I presume, really what their issue is. Nimbyism meets fake news meets opinion presented as facts

  8. Warden of the Snort

    You all know that St Lawrence Road resident is dead right about the lack of consultation and planning

    1. Gorev Mahagut

      City Council: “We’re doing a consultation. Do you want to have poor people for neighbours?”
      Resident: “No way. They smell and they rob houses, their children look at you and they pick their noses. One time a poor man sold me a horse and it was lame. If you don’t invite them to your child’s christening they come anyway and put a curse on the baby, then it eats a poisoned apple and falls asleep in a glass box for a year and a day. Even the foreigners wouldn’t do that. I don’t mind Muslim neighbours as long as they’re those rich Muslims, the ones who work in private hospitals or maybe a Saudi Arabian sheikh, but definitely no poor people. No chance.”
      City Council: “I’ve put you down as a ‘no’. Ok thanks for your time.”

        1. Gorev Mahagut

          Cheers buddy. If you ever want to live in a workhouse for the deserving poor on my street, you’re more than welcome.

          1. Warden of the Snort

            I’m not sure what your point is or why you are making it. What I am certain of is that you are drowning in a veritable poopy-poo storm of irrelevance.

      1. Warden of the Snort

        Not really the point though is it Scottser?

        If the architects concerned had held a public meeting and outlined their plans for the building, and it’s use, in fact it might even have been welcomed by the locals. I remember being out there a few years ago and the whole place was a desperate eyesore.

        I’m not sure if I’d agree it doesn’t require planning, I know it was a B&B before but with the added complication of being a family hub etc, I reckon it would have benefitted from being put through the planning process, that way, any reasonable concerns local residents had could be addressed in a transparent and clear way, rather than allowing NIMBYism to flourish in the vacuum that pertained

        1. scottser

          It was a.point raised as an objector. And.why would.any build hold a public consultation? When does that ever happen?
          You’re being a bit obtuse for the sake.of it lad.

          1. Warden of the Snort

            I don’t think so fella. I’m involved heavily in projects which require consultation and social acceptance. Listen: you probably are correct that lads would object anyway.
            But they’re less likely to be able to sustain such objections if a barrister for the state goes in and says, look we had a town hall meeting on date x, where resident X articulated his concerns, which were addressed in the following manner blah blah
            The optics of this is terrible on so many levels.

  9. Andy Moore

    I spent much of my early childlood @ my late Grannies on Lawrences Rd & feckin” hated it because I was never allowed out to play on the road due to neighbours complaining because we were happy & making noise ? & that was nearly 50 years ago ! The correspondent is goddam right it’s no place for young children if they want to express themselves ?

  10. LeopoldGloom

    3 million should be buying more than 15 apartments., double that minimum. You’re buying in bulk too ala the Vulture funds, more again.

  11. Mysterybeat

    These are the same people that were raising €75,000 to object to the use of the building as a homeless hub on the basis that it was ‘unsuitable’ and the homeless executive should have bought apartments in the area. Apartments that they owned no doubt.

    I think raising €75k to donate to a homeless charity would do a lot more good than making some lawyers rich.


    1. The Real Jane

      Yes, some of the wealthiest people in the country abusing public officials because they don’t want The Poors on their road.

      The disingenuous person who wrote this piece left out some very telling information.

  12. I.P.

    I love this country. Amazing scenes around every corner but it takes a few years to come to light. And people in the middle of it turn a blind eye “not my money” etc. Irish people climbing over each other for a quick buck.

    Brown envelopes are so moreish tho. Who among us wouldn’t say no?

      1. mildred st. meadowlark

        Really? You can’t see anything wrong with this?

        I mean sure it’s a solution, short term, but you don’t see an issue with 13 families having to make do in a single dwelling?

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yes. Lots. That’s why I’m not of the opinion that people like living on the dole, as you are.

  13. Evie

    Ignore them. The St L Rd residents association are the biggest nimbyists in Ireland. I’ve family living on the road and you should see the obnoxious letters the res assoc are sending round looking for money to fight a court case. It’s all about the price of their property and nothing else. There’s a residence for homeless people on the next road over for years and no trouble at all.

  14. CCD

    I have family on St Lawrence Road and I too saw the letter and it was certainly not obnoxious or unreasonable. Aside from that, I don’t believe housing 13 families in the house in question is appropriate or fair to the families involved. The only solution for the families who will live here are permanent places they can call home. Surely this is their right?

    1. Evie

      Absolutely. We urgently need to build a LOT of social housing. But in the meantime I expect this will be better than sleeping on the street or in a hotel. I guess you saw a different letter to the one I saw. Or have a different definition of obnoxious. I would say 13 families seems a lot, but it’s 2 very large houses, and perhaps there are extensions? I’ve never seen around the back.

      Another thing which people may be interested in, is that way back when the 2 houses were turned into a B&B in the first place, about 20 years ago I think, there was a MASSIVE outcry from local residents that it would bring down the value of their properties…

    2. Rob_G

      “The only solution for the families who will live here are permanent places they can call home. Surely this is their right?

      I am glad that society has safety nets in place for people who are going through a rough patch, but these supports should be timely but not go on forever; otherwise people will have no incentive to better their situation.

      If people want a permanent home, they should buy one like everyone else.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        “these supports should be timely but not go on forever; otherwise people will have no incentive to better their situation.”

        No incentive? Conservatives are clueless. Do you think people *like* being on the dole and living on handouts? Do you actually think people like being in that situation? Jesus!

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