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Harassment and infestations among top complaints about homeless accommodation

Newly released data on complaints details the issues facing people in emergency living situations.

ALLEGED UNFAIR TREATMENT by staff, harassment from other residents and infestations are just some of the issues people living in homeless emergency accommodation in Dublin say that they face.

Documents released to Noteworthy under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act detail complaints raised by homeless people living in state-funded accommodation with Dublin City Council between July 2019 and June this year. This includes homeless hostels, private hotels and B&Bs. 

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to probe the cost of emergency accommodation around the country. See how you can make this investigation happen here.

During this period, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) received 46 complaints from service users or from NGOs on their behalf. Some complaints listed multiple issues, with alleged unfair treatment from staff and conditions in facilities topping the list.

Source: Noteworthy/Flourish

The complaints revealed here are similar to others reported previously. Documents released to TheJournal.ie in recent years revealed claims of cockroach infestations, blocked toilets, leaking ceilings, drinking and smoking in accommodation, and fire issues.

Once a complaint is received, a line manager at the service used by the individual making the complaint is contacted to investigate the matter and respond to the complainant within 21 working days.

While in previous years the DRHE released redacted copies of complaints with more granular detail, Noteworthy was this time only provided with a statistical breakdown of cases with a brief summary of the nature of the complaints. 

The DRHE told Noteworthy that it recently changed policy so as to better protect the identities of service users. “We conducted a review of our approach to releasing complaints related data in 2019, in light of GDPR and in consultation with our Law Department,” it said.

“It was agreed at that time that in order to ensure the privacy and safety of all clients, (both complainants and the subjects of complaints) and to ensure all confidential details of staff and accommodation facilities are protected, that we would no longer release the text of complaints, including redacted text.”

Changing Face of Homelessness Figures on Homelessness in Ireland Source: FOCUS Ireland

Decline in homeless figures

In July 2020, 8,728 individuals were in emergency accommodation, a small increase since June that had marked the fifth month in a row that numbers using this service has fallen. Within this cohort were 6,077 adults and 2,651 children, including 1,142 families.

According to the Department of Housing, 1,467 adults and their dependents exited homelessness in April, May and June during the height of the Covid-19 outbreak during which time a moratorium on evictions and rent freezes were introduced.

The Simon Communities has said that the decrease was largely driven by the recent moratorium and the collaboration of NGOs, local authorities and the HSE to use existing housing stock to support people to move out of homelessness.

Charities have voiced concern that there will be an increase in homelessness following the decision to remove these protections for most households at the start of August.

Speaking last week, Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said that the moratorium on evictions and rent freezes “clearly worked” as the number of children and adults who are homeless reduced significantly over the summer months.

“Since the lapse of the initial ban on evictions and rent reviews, our services are now meeting tenants who are facing notices of terminations and evictions which is deeply concerning,” he added.  

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THIS HOSTEL LIFE

Noteworthy wants to look at every local authority in the country and find out how they are dealing with homelessness in their areas and analyse how much is being spent on hotels, B&Bs, and guesthouses right around the country.

Have you had a personal experience of emergency accommodation that you would like to share? You can contact the team at information@noteworthy.ie

Here’s how to support this proposal >

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