Fr Peter McVerry SJ on homelessness crisis
On the eve of the 2016 Election, Fr Peter McVerry discusses the growing homelessness crisis and the lack of effective social policy to keep people in their homes.
Interview recorded on 24th February 2016.
Peter McVerry Trust
Peter McVerry Trust is a charity set up by Fr Peter McVerry to reduce homelessness and the harm caused by drug misuse and social disadvantage.
Fr Peter McVerry SJ has been working with vulnerable young people in Dublin for the last 40 years. During this time he has campaigned tirelessly for their rights.
Fr McVerry grew up in Newry, Co. Down and was educated at the Abbey Christian Brothers’ Grammar School in Newry and at the Jesuit school at Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare.
In 1962, he entered the Jesuit Order and was ordained in 1975. From 1974 to 1980, Peter worked in the Inner City in Dublin and there he came into contact with young people who were sleeping on the streets because of their home situation. He opened a hostel for homeless boys, aged 12-16, in 1979 and this subsequently became his life-time work. He saw through the work of this hostel that when the boys reached 16 and needed to leave, they had few options open to them and most ended up back living on the streets. This realisation led him to set about providing services and accommodation for these older youths.
In 1980 Peter moved to Ballymun and by the end of 1983 he had founded the Arrupe Society, a charity to tackle homelessness. This charity, subsequently renamed as the Peter McVerry Trust, has progressed from a three bedroom flat in Ballymun to eleven homeless hostels, over 100 apartments, a residential drug detox centre and two drug stabilisation services. His vision for PMVT is to support all those living on the margins and to uphold their rights to full inclusion in society. In 2013 the charity worked with almost 3,600 vulnerable youths.
As a social activist Peter is a strong advocate for those who have no voice in society. He has written widely on issues relating to young homeless people such as accommodation, drugs, juvenile justice, the Gardaí, prisons and education. He has a regular article in the monthly Redemptorist magazine, Reality, and speaks on issues of homelessness, justice and faith to groups around the country. He is a critic of government policy on issues such as homelessness, drugs and criminal justice.
Now based at Peter McVerry Trust’s Open Access Centre in Upper Sherrard Street, Peter’s ongoing work with and campaigning on behalf of troubled young people has made him one of the most prophetic voices in Ireland today.