By Sean Ryan - 25 November, 2016
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney TD, recently visited St John’s College, Respond! Housing Association’s latest social housing development in Waterford city.
A former seminary for the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, St 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 new homes, with one-bedroom apartments, a ten-bed group home and extensive communal facilities.
Speaking at St John’s, Minister Coveney said: “I’m delighted to be here to visit this development provided by Respond and I would like to congratulate them on their great work in transforming what was previously a disused building.
“We need to see more projects like this which make use of derelict properties. Approved Housing Bodies such as Respond are vital to the delivery of Rebuilding Ireland, the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. The Action Plan is all about providing homes and sustainable communities for families nationwide and this project is a fine example of this with a community centre on site for the wider community.”
The Minister also visited the recently opened Respond! facility for housing older people at St John’s College. He said: “This is an exemplar project in so many respects. It has transformed a disused building and brought it back into use. It also shows how approved housing bodies can secure financial backing from both public and private sources and Respond deserves great credit for their pioneering role in securing funding for this project.”
John’s College is home to over 60 residents, some of whom require supports to live independently. It acts as a community centre for the wider area, and is home to the Waterford branch of Down Syndrome Ireland, the Cuidiú mother and toddler group, the Hub café and an artist in residence.
Respond! College will run a Certificate in Housing Practice and a major award course in Health Service Skills and other educational courses for residents and the wider community this coming term.
Albert Perris, Chief Executive Officer of Respond Support, said: “Waterford city and county currently has 6,000 people in need of accommodation and this is a crisis we all have to address. However, housing is only one part of the solution. Communities need services; children need facilities and families need supports.”
He added: “The Respond! model is not one where we simply build houses, but one where we are committed to the creation and development of resourced communities to enable and empower people to fulfil their potential. We do this through the provision of housing along with services, supports, education and life-skills’’.
James McCarthy, a resident of John’s College, said: “In John’s College I know I am never alone. I have recently joined the choir set up by the residents. We all have skills we can teach to others. It’s never too late to learn”.
Respond! was founded in Waterford in the early 1980s by the Franciscan order and Fr Pat Cogan OFM. To date, Respond! has built 574 social homes and four childcare centres in Waterford city and county alone.