Wednesday 21 March 2018

'Mothers taking cocaine in bedrooms with children present' among slew of complaints about homeless accommodation

EXCLUSIVE: Complaints made by residents of private emergency homeless accommodation

Stock image Photo: Getty
Stock image Photo: Getty
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A slew of complaints were made by residents of private emergency homeless accommodation highlighting problems of drug abuse, mould and pest control.

The complaints are detailed in email correspondence sent to Dublin Regional Homeless Executive which coordinates all homeless accommodation on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities.

In one worrying instance, a case manager in Focus Ireland wrote to management to raise the issue of what a resident described as an "enormous" level of drug use in an unnamed hotel which is used to house homeless families.

"She said that mothers are taking tablets, cocaine and smoking weed in their bedrooms with their children present on a daily basis. She said that the staff seem to turn a blind eye to this," the case worker wrote in an email.

The woman living there said she had raised the issue with staff but was afraid to contact gardaí in case her placement would be in jeopardy and was also concerned for her safety.

"It is unacceptable that this issue has come up before and it is unacceptable," the case worker said.

"Many residents apply for a transfer from PEA (private emergency accommodation) the same day they are placed here. There are no cooking facilities, no meals provided and no laundry facilities. It is impossible for a family to live with any kind of stability. The stress, due to financial strain and the chaotic drug taking environment is having a detrimental affect on every parent and child residing in the accommodation."

A worried mother also reported her young son having the chord from a hairdryer wrapped around his neck despite having asked staff to remove it because she was worried it could be dangerous. After the incident she alleged that staff "pulled it off the wall and left live electrical wores hanging in the wall".

In another case a 78-year-old man who was housed in a unit had to buy a new key which then did not work.

He was locked into his unit and was "banging on the door for a long time" before someone heard him.

The complaints were released to under Freedom of Information laws. Also included in the documents is a letter dated June 5 2017 from pest control company Rentokil which advised a room to be left vacant for at least two weeks so the company could "get a handle on the situation that has arisen".

Pest control was also required when another homeless resident was found to have bed bug bites on their arms.

A public health nurse also brought concerns forward from a mum of two who said her room has mould on the ceilings, walls, curtains and in the fridge.

A number of complaints about residents staying in various accommodation were also made to the DHRE. These included one woman who was accused of pushing and shoving people and using racial slurs. Another resident threatened staff with bolling water and were asked to leave their accomodation.

People working in the homelessness sector are quick to highlight the complexity of providing adequate housing and supports for people.

The list of complaints being fielded by the DHRE serve to highlight this.

In one case a PEA placement was cancelled after armed garda turned up to arrest a resident. has contacted the DHRE for comment.

The current policy is that they DHRE "actively pursues all complaints and has a formal complaints policy that deals with all complaints received.  If complaints are received from persons or families who are accessing homeless service, the appropriate department investigates the complaint and then responds accordingly to the complainant."

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive ensures compliance with all the statutory health and safety standards is maintained by all service providers. 

In addition all service providers must operate under protection procedures as required under Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011) set out by Tusla.

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