Friday, September 23, 2016

Disused churches are being donated to house homeless people

Religious orders and churches in Ireland are being asked to give empty properties to the state to help ease Ireland's homelessness crisis.

Simon Coveney, housing minister, has pleaded for empty presbyteries, convents and other buildings to be offered to house homeless people, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Latest figures show there are now more than 900 homeless families including 2,000 children in Ireland.

Many millions of dollars worth of property has already been handed over but Coveney appealed for all religious groups to consider whether they had any spare buildings at all. 

"If there are any religious congregations listening and you have properties that are no longer in use or you are looking to vacate in the coming months or years we are interested in talking to you. Please make contact with us directly," said Coveney, speaking at the national parliament or Oireachtas housing committee.

Coveney was defending plans to build new social housing set out in his ambitious  Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness

The plan itself states: "We will also work in partnership with religious congregations to identify underused land and property that may have potential to be brought forward for social housing and mixed- tenure developments."

Coveney said a number of religious orders have already given property, such as a home for nuns in Kerry that was handed over to a housing agency. 

Other buildings belonging to religious orders are also in the process of being offered to house the homeless.

The government has pledged 47,000 social houses will be built in six years. 

There will also be thousands more in private schemes. 

Currently nearly seven per cent of houses in Ireland are social housing. 

The rate in Europe is 17 per cent.

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