By Ann Marie Foley - 10 April, 2019
Brother Kevin Crowley has announced that the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People will donate €5 million to the Peter McVerry Trust with the aim of building 25 homes for homeless people. He attributed a boost in the day centre’s funds to the visit of Pope Francis last year.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke, Brother Kevin said that there had been “very generous donations” from the public over the last year and the Pope’s visit had been “a huge boost”.
He explained that the Capuchin Day Centre has no expertise in housing so it picked the Peter McVerry Trust to “secure a minimum of 25 housing units for those in greatest need.”
Brother Kevin explained: “My main concern is for unfortunate people who are leaving our centre here every day to go back to hotels or walking the streets.”
He added that every child should have a home. The growth in the number of families requiring homeless services is “truly shocking” and it “troubles” him and colleagues that children in Ireland have nowhere to call home.
Last year when Pope Francis was in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families he visited the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin and spent time with the homeless people. Over 40 years ago, Brother Kevin founded the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People in Bow Street, Dublin. From helping a few people in the Friary garden it has gone to now providing over 700 meals each day and over 1500 food parcels each Wednesday to the homeless and poor of Dublin.
When starting out Brother Kevin had nothing and was finding it difficult to feed those in need. He explained: “I went and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and said ‘God these are your people and if you want me to feed them you better get the money.’ We’ve never been short of food or money since and I do believe in God and I know that God is there and God is taking care of us.”
The Peter McVerry Trust welcomed the donation stating: “We are very grateful for the generosity from Brother Kevin and all those at the Capuchin Day Centre and for placing their trust in us. This money has already secured 25 new social housing units.”
Pat Doyle, CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust, said this is the single biggest donation ever received by the trust. He added that the money is a boost for its development programme in Dublin and Kildare. The Trust plans to put families currently in hotel accommodation, young people exiting care, and people living on the streets in the new housing units.
Peter Doyle said that the Trust would welcome some matching funding from the government so the organisation can continue purchasing and refurbishing buildings.
“We can fund 25 to 30 housing units to begin with but if we got matching funding back from the government we could keep going,” he said.
Currently the Peter McVerry Trust has around 365 housing units across the city of Dublin and Kildare and approximately 150 in the pipeline at various stages of development, he said. With the current housing market so competitive, it often has to buy old buildings that are less attractive to the big investment fund owners who purchase properties to rent out. These older buildings need extra investment to refurbish them to a suitable standard.