Minister Zappone officially opens the Respond! Family Hub in Tallaght

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr. Katherine Zappone TD today officially opened the Respond! Family Hub in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. The facility has capacity for 9 families where 7 families have their own apartments with 2 families sharing a kitchen in adjoining apartments. The Tallaght Family Hub has seen 9 families with 24 children move into homes of their own

Overall figures show that 50 families have moved into homes of their own from 5 Family Hubs in Dublin.

The average stay in for families in the Respond! Family Hubs has been 7 months and 8 days – 9 months in Tallaght and 5.5 months in High Park.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone TD said:

“Respond! Family Hubs are caring new model of accommodation which includes a range of wrap-around services to help families be in a better position to move to secure housing in the short term. I am happy to see that every family here has a key worker and support plans which are developed with every resident based on their own individual need.

This supported temporary accommodation is designed to be as close to a home as possible and to ensure that every child and adult leaves in a better position than when they arrived”.

CEO of Respond! Housing Declan Dunne said:

“I am glad to report that 23 families including 47 children have moved out of our Family Hubs and into homes of their own. The overall figure of 50 families in Hubs supported by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive is a credible outcome from a new model first launched only 7 months ago. Together we can aim to continually improve the Family Hub model to ensure that all families who currently find themselves homeless have the homes they truly want, need and deserve as soon as possible.

Last year Respond! delivered 135 new social homes and we have recently significantly ramped up our ambitions for social home delivery with 2,918 homes currently in our development pipeline. We know that the long-term solution to the current homelessness crisis is the building of social housing and we aim to play our part. We are committed to providing homes for life for those in housing need. Family Hubs are a short-term solution while we, with our partners, work on the long term solution.”

Vacant Site Levy increase welcome as Budget promises house building will increase

– Proof for all of us will be in numbers of keys handed over

Reacting to today’s Budget announcements by Finance Minister Paschal Donoghue, Respond Housing’s CEO Declan Dunne welcomed the increases in the Vacant Site Levy and other promised measures to increase housing supply.

“Hoarding of land by owners/developers is one of the main barriers for anyone trying to build housing in Ireland. Respond has argued that the Vacant Site Levy as it was originally designed was not keeping pace with increases in the price of land, particularly residentially zoned land in cities and towns. Today we are pleased that Minister Donoghue recognised this problem and is seeking to address it with a Vacant Site Levy that increases year-on-year if the land is not developed. Though land prices in some areas is increasing exponentially this is a clear signal to owners of vacant sites that they need to build on the much-needed land. It remains to be seen if the Levy can keep pace with land price increases but this is a good start.

Respond Housing also welcomes the increase in funding for homeless services by €18 million though this is a reflection unfortunately of the rising numbers of homeless families and individuals. We also welcome the increase in funding for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme, particularly in relation to the further rollout of HAP Place Finder to enable homeless families access secure accommodation.

“However, we know that Housing Assistance Payment is only a short-term solution to our homelessness crisis. It is only through a serious increase in social and affordable housing supply that we can truly tackle this crisis. I welcome the increase in ambition – from 47,000 to 50,000 social homes by 2021 – and the increase in funding. The challenge is to build at the scale the crisis requires. It is disappointing though that there was no mention in the Minister’s speech of a scheme for those who need help but whose income disqualifies them from social housing. Only though a mixture of tenure and incomes in our new development can we ensure true and lasting social integration.

“The proof of this Budget will be in actual house completions and new keys handed over in the coming years. Respond for our part will work with the Department and local authorities to build the social and affordable housing our country so dearly needs.”

LIT students wow Respond Housing with new design for homeless families

Recently in Limerick city, students of LIT Interior Design were presented with awards to acknowledge their excellent design work for the renovation of a playroom for homeless women and children.

The Suaimhneas project was opened by Respond! Housing in Moyross in 2002 to combat the growing numbers of homeless women and children who were left with no alternative than living in B&Bs. Funded by the HSE and Limerick City and County Council, the Suaimhneas centre focuses on helping families with re-housing as well as support and resources to achieve independent living.

Beginning purely as a design competition, the collaboration between LIT and Respond grew to include local material suppliers that have generously donated the materials and in some cases the labour for the implementation of the new scheme. The community-spirited suppliers are Dulux Ireland, Forbo Ireland and the Galtee Group (Ballylanders).

Paul Hargaden, Regional Manager for Respond Housing:

This is an excellent example of real collaboration to the benefit of the local community.

We never dreamed that Niall and his students would go beyond the hopes of a simple design, to facilitate a whole redesign of the space. This will give a much needed boost to the service and the families living in Suaimhneas who are experiencing a difficult time in their lives.

Now the children will have a beautiful new play area and Dulux Ireland, Forbo Ireland and the Galtee Group are to be sincerely thanked for coming on board with materials and labour.

I would like to thank the students for their time and talent, Niall and all in Limerick Institute of Technology for seeking to contribute in a meaningful way and the fantastic companies who joined the team. It shows us that during this homelessness crisis if we all come together we can make a big difference.”

Pat Gill, Head of Department of the Built Environment at LIT:

“We are delighted to help the women and children in the Suaimhneas service and at the same time teach our students the application of design in the real world. Excellent design must have the end service-users in mind and this project is a great learning experience for our students.

Design and the built environment around us is also proven to be a major factor in terms of wellbeing and mental health. We all deserve good design and none moreso than the women and children of Limerick who have no home to call their own. We are happy, as always, to assist the good work of Respond! in the Limerick area.”

Eoin Ryan, Managing Director at the Galtee Group:

“The Galtee Group are delighted to be associated with such a worthy cause in conjunction with Limerick Institute of Technology and Respond! Housing. We have worked with LIT on a number of projects including the Carbright Homecare Facility and look forward to future collaboration.”

Noel Hogan, Area Sales Manager, Forbo Flooring Systems:

“Forbo Ireland Limited are delighted to be associated with such a worthy cause in conjunction with Limerick Institute of Technology (Interior design program )and Respond! Housing Association.”

Paddy Barry, Sales Manager Southern Region, Dulux Paints Ireland Limited:

Represented by Mr Fergus O’Connor on the night, Area Representative with Dulux Paints.

“I know all the participants have contributed a tremendous amount of time and effort to bring such a worthwhile project to fruition. It again illustrates what can be achieved when people engage together with a positive and generous attitude.  On behalf of Dulux I would like to thank and congratulate the staff and students from LIT as well as the team from Respond! on this great achievement.”



Minister Coveney launches new Family Hub model of accommodation

Today in Respond’s Dublin headquarters in Drumcondra, Minister Coveney officially opened the new High Park Family Hub.

Family Hubs are a caring new model of accommodation for families experiencing homelessness. They includes wrap-around services to help families be in a better position to move into their own homes in the short-term. Designed as a better alternative to commercial hotels and B&Bs, Respond will be rolling out this model in other locations in partnership with local authorities.

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government said:

“What this facility means is that we have a setting for families where they have a better chance to go about their daily lives with space to live and breathe, play facilities for your children, a place to sit and relax or watch television. To lead something like a normal life and not be stuck on your own in a hotel room, with no on-site supports or other facilities that are available to families living in the community in their own homes, with their own front doors.”

Declan Dunne, CEO of Respond said:

“We are pleased today to welcome the Minister and our partners to the launch our first Family Hub.

We opened our doors just before Christmas and already four families have found homes of their own with the help of our support workers. The model, even in these early stages, appears to be working.

“The Family Hub is our humanitarian response to address the needs of homeless families in Ireland today. Many of the families here need and now have proper facilities, especially for their children. Our 24-hour support services are tailored to the needs of individual families with key workers for every resident. This is interim accommodation – with the aim that families leave Respond in a better position than when they arrived and move into homes of their own.

“Respond will continue to ramp up our building and acquisition plans alongside our Family Hubs to fully play our part in fulfilling the ambitious targets in Rebuilding Ireland and help every family in Ireland have the home that they need, want and deserve”.


New social housing regeneration project in Cork city

Today in the Blackpool area of Cork city, Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney TD turned the sod on a reconstruction project which will see 10 new homes for older people provided in Dublin Street.

This marks the next phase of Respond’s regeneration work in this area of Cork which over the next 3 years will see 240 social housing units added to the complement in Cork.

Minister Coveney said:

“I’m delighted to be here today to turn the sod on this project to provide homes for the elderly being delivered by Respond. I’d like to acknowledge their great work to deliver homes with appropriate community-based supports for older people and I’m pleased that over €2m is being made available by my Department to fund this project. Approved Housing Bodies such as Respond! are critical in meeting the ambitious social housing targets in Rebuilding Ireland – the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.”

Respond! CEO Declan Dunne said:

“Respond! has a long and proud history in this area of Cork city. Dublin Street is only the beginning of our next phase of regeneration in the area. Our highly-regarded 51 unit St Francis Gardens development in Blackpool already has a range of wrap-around supports for our older tenants including a Day Centre. Dublin Street residents when they move in will have access to these services so they will know they are never alone and there is always a helping hand.

We are delighted today to commence work on Dublin Street as the first of many projects we aim to develop in Cork City, at a total of 240 new social homes over the next 3 years. We look forward to working with Cork City Council to provide housing and other support services to people in most need. All of us in the housing sector have a duty to do the most we can to help provide the 47,000 new social houses Ireland needs as planned for in Rebuilding Ireland. Respond is willing and ready to play our part to tackle our homelessness crisis with housing solutions on the ground”

The Dublin Street project consists of 10 units (5 x 1 bed and 5 x 2 bed) at a project value of €2.15 million which will be funded through the Department of Housing’s Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS). The contractor is HG Construction and the estimated completion date is January 2018.

 Posted: 20th February 2017


Loneliness is a killer: Responding to social isolation through technology

On Friday 10th February at John’s College in Waterford City, UCC School of Applied Social Studies and Respond! Housing examined innovative responses to one of the major social issues of the digital age.

Responding to Social Isolation through Technology” will hear from a range of experts and practitioners on methods to deal with loneliness.

Opening the conference Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation Mr. John Halligan T.D., highlighted that responding effectively to social isolation and loneliness poses challenges for governments, policy makers, service providers, our communities, and families.   We need effective responses across a broad range of areas, which will address not alone the quality of life issues, but also financial issues whereby people can be supported in their own homes and in their own communities.

Respond! Chief Executive Officer Declan Dunne said:

Loneliness is a killer. This is no exaggeration. A 2010 review of over 140 studies found that the influence of social isolation on early mortality is comparable to well-established risk factors such as smoking and has a greater impact than factors such as obesity and physical obesity.

“We have to ensure our older relatives and friends do not become even more isolated in this new information age and in fact, learn to use and be comfortable with new technology which will enable them to stay in touch with their families and be involved in the national conversation. We in Respond commit use the learnings from today’s conference to start the journey to ensure our cohort of older residents have the skills and technology available to them to stay connected to the wider world.”

According to Professor Cathal O’Connell of the School of Applied Social Studies of University College Cork “this is an issue faced by many societies and its effects have been captured in a range of quality of life indicators across age, gender, income and ethnicity. While communications technology brings undoubted challenges and barriers, it can also be harnessed to innovate for new modes of interaction and social engagement between people and communities”, he said.


The conference event is supported by funding from the New Foundations Scheme of the Irish Research Council. New Foundations promotes co-operation between Irish third level institutions and community and voluntary organisations with the intention of disseminating academic research and ensuring its impacts are of benefit to the wider community and society at large

*2010 review of 140 studies on social isolation and loneliness: Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. and Layton, J. (2010) ‘Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review’, PLoS Med, 7(7).



Making Rebuilding Ireland a reality – Respond! Housing submission to Budget 2017

Rebuilding Ireland published in July 2016 set ambitious targets to deal with the chronic under-supply of housing to alleviate the housing and homelessness crisis Ireland currently faces. Over the period 2016-2021 the plan is that 47,000 new social housing units would be added to the national stock by both Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) and local authorities.

Declan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer of Respond! Housing said:

“We welcome this level of ambition in Rebuilding Ireland which we intend to match with our own new build and acquisition plans. However, we remain concerned that certain obstacles to the use of existing housing stock, to effective land management, to the building and acquisition of new homes and the creation of communities require urgent budgetary measures in order that the targets in Rebuilding Ireland can be achieved.

In our pre-budget submission to the Ministers of Finance and Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government we maintain that building costs remain prohibitively high, land scarce and that AHBs and local authorities require certainty on the financial implications of the Action Plan in order to fully play our part in the delivery of the plan. We have asked the Government to priortise the following measures:

  • Publish 5-year multi-annual financial plan to accompany Rebuilding Ireland
  • Increase the Vacant Site Levy to 10% or 2% above the increase in the price of the site and collect this money in 2017 to maximise use of derelict or vacant sites
  • Set the VAT rate for new social housing projects at 0%
  • Reduce the VAT on materials and services for the renovation of vacant houses to 13.5%
  • Waive developer contributions on social housing
  • €500 million for a ‘Repair and Lease’ scheme calculated on a cost-per square metre to house 10,000 families on the housing lists
  • Carry out an urgent audit of the Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR) with a view to reducing the major cost this kind of self-certification represents
  • Link developer levies to proximity to services including water, transport, schools…
  • Publish infrastructural investment plan alongside Rebuilding Ireland
  • Provide for the Special Purpose Vehicle to allow for investment from the Irish League of Credit Unions towards social housing projects
  • Increase investment in Warmer Homes and Better Energy Community Schemes to carry out energy upgrades on existing stock to alleviate fuel poverty
  • Increase supports targeted to those on low incomes including the Back to Education Allowance and childcare subventions
  • Neighbourhood Activation Fund pilot to support integrated estates of mixed tenure

In essence, we are looking for detailed reforms to reduce the cost of building, to make better use of our land and to put social housing building programmes on a sound financial footing into the future.

We are committed to implementing the provisions of Rebuilding Ireland but suggest investment plans are required in order to make the ambitions in this plan a reality on the ground.”

See Respond!’s full submission here

Minister for Housing and Community Simon Coveney TD visits Respond!’s social inclusion hub in Waterford

Housing numbers are only one side of the equation – we cannot forget to build communities

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney TD today visited John’s College – Respond!’s latest social housing development – in Waterford city. To date, Respond! has built 574 social homes and 4 childcare centres in Waterford city and county alone.

John’s College was refurbished and redeveloped by Respond! Housing with the financial support of Waterford City Council and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government through the Capital Assistance Scheme, the Capital Advance Lease Facility and Payment and Availability Agreement. The €12 million scheme has delivered 57 one bedroom apartments, a 10 bed group home and extensive communal facilities. Continue reading

34 Families to be Housed in New Respond! Development in Cork City

Respond! Housing today announced the completion of Phase I of our new Ashmount Mews social housing development, in the Silversprings/Mayfield area on the north-side of Cork city.

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney TD visited Ashmount Mews and spoke to the 16 families who recently moved into their new homes. When Phase II is completed, Ashmount Mews will be a 34 house estate, all homes including 3 bedrooms. When filled, the development will be home to 44 adults and 70 children. Continue reading

Respond! welcomes plans to increase social housing supply

Respond! Housing association today warmly welcomed Minister Coveney’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, in particular the increased funding and targets to provide an additional 47,000 new social homes over the next 5 years.

Founder/Director Fr. Pat Cogan ofm said:

We welcome the Minister’s initiatives and we offer our considerable and professional in-house design and production services to meet the huge housing need that the Minister has outlined.  Currently, we are engaged in reviewing our Design and Production capabilities to see how we might respond positively to the design and planning needs of ourselves, local authorities and other Approved Housing Bodies. Continue reading