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Home Sweet Home and minister in deal to end Apollo House occupation

A deal has been struck to end the occupation of the Apollo House office block in Dublin by homeless people and campaigners.

With a potential eviction deadline looming on Wednesday, Housing Minister Simon Coveney and the Home Sweet Home collective agreed to find new accommodation for those living in the Nama-controlled building.

As part of the deal 4 million euro will be spent on two new facilities for the homeless in the capital.

Home Sweet Home said residents who secure places in the new accommodation will be given their own keys for 24-hour access and will be offered private single or double rooms for a "place to call home".

They will also have access to support services.

"Dublin City Council advised us that this positive development only came about as a direct result of the Home Sweet Home campaign," the group said.

The campaigners said they would not take anyone else into Apollo House after helping to have 83 people assessed by homelessness services since the occupation began in mid-December and securing accommodation for 54.

They will begin moving residents of the old civil service offices into new accommodation as beds become available in the next two days, the campaign said.

Mr Coveney and his officials have been in talks with Home Sweet Home since Friday.

In a statement he said homelessness remains a top priority for the Government and that enough beds are available in Dublin to ensure people do not have to sleep rough.

"Additional capacity however, through the advancement of two new facilities, will be put in place in the coming months following consultation with a broad range of stakeholders to meet potential future demand," the minister's office said.

"These facilities will include units suitable for single persons and couples and will promote independent living skills. It was also agreed that Dublin City Council would improve community-based homeless services and facilities through their local authority office network."

Homeless people and service providers are being asked for advice on how the facilities should be developed, Mr Coveney said.

Home Sweet Home, which secured more than 160,000 euro in donations and help from 2,500 volunteers following the occupation, vowed to continue its work and said it will open a permanent support, advice and activist centre in Dublin to assist people with housing information needs.

It also said it will have regular monthly meetings with Dublin City Council and other local authorities if necessary.

"The intervention of Home Sweet Home has created a greater awareness of the housing and homelessness emergency that has blighted our country for too long," the group said.

"This coalition of artists, trade unionists and activists/volunteers including the Irish Housing Network is committed to not only ensuring the full delivery of the above, but also the ultimate elimination of homelessness in Ireland."

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