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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# Housing Crisis
Guns, drunken melees, and pest infestations - living in emergency accommodation in Dublin is no joke
Three months’ worth of complaints to the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive suggest conditions in the capital’s emergency accommodation are fraught.

shutterstock_268132268 Shutterstock / Brian A Jackson Shutterstock / Brian A Jackson / Brian A Jackson

THE PROBLEMS WITH the standards of homeless accommodation in Dublin city show little sign of being resolved, newly released documents reveal.

Complaints made to the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE), by both residents and managers, between April and June of this year show that, for many, living in emergency accommodation in Dublin can be a fraught experience.

The data, three months worth of complaints regarding the accommodation and goings-on for the ever-increasing number people and families currently without a place to live in the capital, has been released to by DRHE under Freedom of Information.

In those three months alone some 253 pages of complaints were received by DRHE.


The hardships of living in homeless circumstances at present are laid bare by one complaint from early April, which concerned a lady living in a hostel with her daughter, who has special needs.

The original email to DRHE details how the little girl “refused to walk and insists that her mother carries her everywhere”.

“This morning and yesterday she just lay on the ground screaming and hurting herself. Screaming is her only way of communication as she is non-verbal.”

Another complaint from mid-April describes a 75-minute long ‘drink and drug-fueled melee’ on the part of several hostel residents.

“I had to go to their room and threaten them with immediate eviction in order to restore calm,” the complaint from the hostel-operator reads.

On checking their room this morning (I) found a large amount of empty cans, a small amount of hash, and the remains of drug wraps and cards of tablets… we are left with no option but to close their room.

Later the same month, a husband and wife in a homeless hostel requested a transfer after a woman claimed the man had threatened to ‘slit her throat’ over an altercation concerning the noise being made by the man’s children.

homeless slit DRHE DRHE

The operators of the hostel requested the opinion of higher authority as in their opinion the woman in question had been “completely out of order” both in how she had behaved and in calling her boyfriend, who subsequently arrived and “attempted to intimidate” the father.

The man and his family subsequently informed the accommodation manager that they no longer felt safe staying there.

Another issue from April comes from a person occupying a private room in a hostel complaining of a “musty” smell in the room, with “excrement on the toilet walls”.

A playroom in another hostel “was closed to try and combat the head lice issue” prevalent in the accommodation at the time, with one entire family of five children presenting with the problem.

Pest-control is a recurring trend within the documents, with numerous issues from bed-bug bites to mice infestations laid bare. In late June, pest control company Rentokil urges one accommodation to keep a room off-limits for at least two weeks “due to pest control issues”.

I understand this may be inconvenient to you but it is imperative that we do so Rentokil can get a handle on the situation that has arisen.

HOUSING 660_90522619 Sam Boal / Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy Sam Boal / /

‘Smoking crack’

In late April a family complained regarding their own emergency accommodation of there being “no management of who comes in and out of the building”, of “anti-social behaviour throughout the night”, and of people “in the hotel smoking ‘crack’ and the smell coming through vents into other families’ rooms with children present”.

Anti-social behaviour is a recurring scourge of emergency accommodation around the city.


In June, a complaint was made about a couple who had been living in homeless accommodation for some time:

“(They) live there for a long time, abusing people. They take drugs all day long, they don’t even have food to eat. They smoke inside and the woman walks naked everywhere.”

I sincerely have no way out of this situation as the manager encourages her behaviour and don’t take any action against it.

More: ‘It’s why homeless people won’t stay in these places’ – Woman assaulted by fellow resident at Dublin hostel

June naked DRHE DRHE

In another incident reported in June by an accommodation manager, the Garda Armed Support Unit (ASU) was called to the scene, which led to an arrest and the same accommodation being cancelled for the perpetrators.

The cancellation of accommodation appears to be a last resort for a property’s managers when the behaviour of those living there goes beyond the pale.

Incidents of people, not those living in emergency accommodation, arriving on site with weapons in order to settle a grievance are also numerous.

One complaint made in April saw staff at one hostel report “that persons with weapons had entered the building and were going through… looking for a particular family”.

Staff stated that the child was present during this.

May staff concerns DRHE DRHE

At least one other instance of firearms being brought into an accommodation in order to settle a grievance is documented.

Child protection

Child protection issues are ten-a-penny.

One complaint recounts an incident in which the gardaí were called to a scene by accommodation management:

“The guards arrived shortly after. The police went up and since (the residents of the room) continued fighting in the room, the police decided to retrieve the baby.”

In another incident in late June, an emergency accommodation resident informed management  that the father of her baby was being abusive and aggressive and was under the influence of drugs”.

“She advised that (he) was taking the baby in his arms and trying to use the baby as a bargaining tool to get his own way.”

Overall a picture emerges of barely controlled chaos, of constant issues involving standards of accommodation (drainage problems and inadequate fire safety for example), to the seeming omnipresence of drugs, to fiery arguments and squabbles between residents, to a lack of security options for those managing the property.

September 2017 was the second month in a row (the first time this has been the case for three years) that more families exited emergency accommodation in Dublin than entered it.

Regardless, there were 89 new presentations by families in the same month. It’s a problem that simply isn’t going away, and it’s hard to see how conditions in the accommodations available are going to improve as things stand.

DRHE, for its part, says that it “actively pursues all complaints and has a formal complaints policy that deals with all those received”.

“If complaints are received from persons or families who are accessing homeless services, the appropriate department investigates the complaint and then responds accordingly to the complainant,” a spokesperson told

Regarding the standard of accommodation itself, DRHE says it: ”ensures compliance with all the statutory health and safety standards is maintained by all service providers”.

Furthermore all service providers must operate under protection procedures as required by (child and family agency) Tusla.

Read: Gardaí renew appeal for info over fatal shooting of Jamie Tighe Ennis

Read: ‘A bizarre choice’: Labour says the new children’s hospital shouldn’t be called Phoenix

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