Homeless man with terminal cancer granted emergency homeless accommodation after hospital discharge
A homeless member of the Roma community who is seriously ill with inoperable cancer and faced imminent discharge from hospital onto the streets, is to be provided with emergency homeless accommodation.
FLAC, the free legal advice organisation, on behalf of Constantin Rostas, challenged in the High Court the decision of Louth County Council to refuse him emergency housing.
Barrister Derek Shortall told Mr Justice Tony O’Connor in the High Court Tuesday that the case had been settled and could be struck out. He said Louth County Council had agreed to pay all of Mr Rostas’s legal fees.
Following the brief hearing Ms Sinead Lucey, a solicitor with FLAC, confirmed that the Louth County Council had agreed to provide six months emergency homeless accommodation to Mr Rostas who is currently ill in hospital.
Earlier the court had been told that Mr Rostas was an inpatient at Beaumont Hospital where he had attended for a biopsy and he did not know when he would be discharged. Mr Justice Paul McDermott, when told that Mr Rostas’s discharge could be imminent, last month granted him leave to judicially review the local authority’s refusal.
Following the court case Ms Lucey said FLAC would be issuing a statement on the matter and also on a related issue. The legal challenge had also been applied for against the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.
Mr Rostas, who is 60, and has lived rough on the streets of Drogheda after losing accommodation with his brother, who also became ill, claimed he had been told by Louth County Council it would not provide him with assistance because he was not habitually resident in the State.
A painter and decorator, he said he had come to Ireland for work in 2008 but had been unable to continue working because of illness which had struck him in 2016. He had inoperable cancer in his kidneys and a benign growth in his head which affected his hearing and sight.
Ms Lucey had written to the council asking it to provide him with emergency accommodation but there had been no response and since 1st August he had no access to homeless services. He had been admitted to Beaumont on 7th August and had been there since.
Mr Rostas, in a sworn statement taken at his bedside by Ms Lucey, said he was currently assessed as not medically fit to leave hospital but this was subject to re-assessment by a doctor any day and he could be discharged at any time. He said that while he would not wish to be taking up a bed in a hospital ward unnecessarily he was in no condition health wise to go back to a situation of living rough on the streets.
Mr Rostas said he had been advised that Louth County Council may be relying upon a housing circular issued by the Department and this, too, he seeks to challenge in the High Court. He did not see what damage the County Council would suffer by providing him with emergency accommodation until he was in a position to make a formal application for housing.
Although he was homeless, impecunious and seriously ill he was willing to give an undertaking as to damages in order to access the courts system.
Mr Rostas had been seeking a number of declarations including that the County Council is obliged to furnish him with reasons for refusing emergency housing support; that it owed him a special duty because of his exceptional medical issues and that it erred in law in relying on Departmental administrative circulars rather than regulations.
Judge McDermott also granted him leave to seek an interlocutory injunction compelling the county council to provide him with emergency assistance under the Housing Act and an order directing the council to reconsider its decision.
He was also allowed to seek declarations that he is a member of an ethnic group which is recognised as vulnerable and requiring special consideration and that, as a citizen of the EU, he was entitled to equal treatment.