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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Blood-stained mattress offered to homeless mum-of-two, claims councillor

Louise Kelly

Published 09/06/2014 | 14:28

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A Sinn Fein councillor has called for an urgent review of homeless accommodation in the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council area after claiming knowledge of sub standard conditions in one of their shelters.

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Newly elected Chris Curran said he visited the homeless unit after being contacted by an “understandably upset” mother who sent him a photo of a blood stained mattress her family was expected to sleep on.

“The stench of urine had a nauseating effect that made me almost wretch. I was outraged when I inspected the property to find a badly bloodstained mattress in the bedroom more reminiscent of tenement times,” he said.

“The mother told me that this was a better mattress to the mattress produced earlier.”

"I am genuinely concerned about health and safety issues. I also found out that some of the windows do not open. If any of us find ourselves homeless, is this what we have to expect?" Mr Curran told independent.ie.

He challenged any Dun Laoghaire Rathdown councillor to bring their families to live in facility which “seems to fall well below the standard of accommodation to facilitate children”.

“People end up in homeless accommodation for all sorts of reasons. It could happen to any of us over the period of a couple of pay packets,” he said.

Mr Curran, who is also the chairperson of DLR Housing Action Group, said that he intends to make a review of homeless shelters in the borough “one of my immediate priorities”.

“When faced with these conditions, one could easily deduce that the society doesn't care, when in fact it's simply a case of poor governance,” he added.

Last night, the DLR Housing Action Campaign Facebook posted the picture of the mattress with the message: "Please, like (preferably dislike) and share the shame of this photo. This is a bed that that was provided via homeless services to a young family in DLR last week."

Mr Curran told independent.ie: "The lady in particular actually qualifies for rent allowance - and at the high end of the scale. But some landlords are not accepting rent allowance so the family finds themselves in this position."

Independent.ie has contacted Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council about the photograph and is currently awaiting a response.

A DLR spokesperson said they have forwarded the query on to Dublin City council as they maintain the south Dublin facility is under their management.

A spokesperson for the Dublin Region Homeless Executive last night said that there are "specific procedures that all service providers must implement when a resident leaves a service and when a new individual/ family enters a service".

"It is absolutely standard and best practice across all temporary homeless accommodation providers that items such as new mattresses are provided, when required, and that accommodation units are cleaned before they are provided to new residents," the spokesperson continued.

They said that as they "understand in this case", the property was one of two units viewed by an individual before it was cleaned.  But that the unit was properly cleaned and the mattress was replaced before the individual occupied it the next day.

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