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Over 200 inspections at homeless hotels and B&Bs following complaints

Homeless services say the inspections are welcome, but the government’s main focus should be on ensuring families are not living long-term in hotels and B&Bs.

Image: Shutterstock/RYUSHI

DUBLIN REGION HOMELESS Executive (DRHE) has carried out more than 200 inspections of hotels and B&Bs that are used as homeless accommodation in the last year.

The council’s homeless executive carries out unannounced inspections on contracted accommodation to ensure standards are maintained. It also follows up complaints made about homeless accommodation.

An enhanced inspection regime was introduced in September this year. The executive said its routine inspections are “unannounced and are designed to ensure compliance with building, maintenance and health and fire safety standards”.

There have been 19 of these inspections so far this year. A further 200 inspections were carried out at hotels and B&Bs in response to complaints this year, the DRHE told TheJournal.ie.

In one three-month period this year alone, 253 pages of complaints were received by the executive. Issues reported included bug bed and mice infestations, and drug use in the accommodation.

Earlier this month, in response to controversial comments by the DRHE’s director Eileen Gleeson, homeless campaigner Peter McVerry had hit out at the standard of accommodation for those without a stable home.

McVerry said there are no written standards for emergency accommodation in Dublin, adding that half of these services would be closed down if there were.

The DRHE told TheJournal.ie that it has produced a national quality standards framework for homeless services to apply to providers, whether the service is statutory, voluntary or private. It will apply to homeless services for single adults, adult couples and families.

“The objectives of the standards are to:

  • Promote safe and effective service provision to persons experiencing homelessness
  • Support the objectives of national homelessness policy, ie enabling people to move into and sustain housing with appropriate levels of support
  • Establish consistency in how persons experiencing homelessness are responded to across different regions and models of service delivery.”

Following the implementation of this new standards framework, the DRHE said compliance will be evaluated through performance monitoring and independent inspection processes.

“Services will be required to devise time bound quality improvement plans to address any areas of non-compliance.”

‘Managing the issue’

While these checks on homeless accommodation were welcomed by Focus Ireland’s Roughan McNamara, he told TheJournal.ie that his organisation believes the main focus should be on ensuring families are not staying in emergency accommodation for long periods of time.

“We appreciate that DRHE is under a lot of pressure to get quality emergency accommodation but the government needs to step up and take more action to stop the constant rise and flow of people becoming homeless,” he said.

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“Rather than putting too much of the emphasis on standards and reviews. By putting too much emphasis on this and other issues, it certainly veers more towards managing the issue than ending it.”

McNamara pointed out that the government had voted down an amendment from Focus Ireland which would have seen the end of evictions of people from buy-to-let properties that are sold or repossessed.

“If they had put that in place, it would have prevented over 200 families from becoming homeless in Dublin,”he said.

“We really need more focus on stopping people from becoming homeless in the firstplace.”

McNamara said Focus Ireland believes there should be a deadline in place to ensure no families are homeless for more than six months.

“Apart from the trauma and damage this does to the family unit and the children, there is no clear end in sight for them. They don’t know when or if they are going to get a home,” he said.

Even in the hubs and in the hotels as well, it is, in some cases, becoming the long-term norm for some families.

The latest rough sleeper count put the number of homeless people on the streets of Dublin at 184. The executive is providing an extra 200 permanent emergency beds in the capital for the winter months.

Read: ‘See no homeless, hear no homeless, help no homeless’: Paul Murphy hits out at government approach>

Read: ‘Apologise or resign’: Fury over council official’s comments about ‘bad behaviour’ of Ireland’s homeless>

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