Monday 22 July 2019

Closure of emergency beds for the homeless is 'a scandal', says Brady

Mary Fogarty

A number of emergency beds for the homeless ceased to operate in Bray, as the cold weather scheme came to an end on Friday, June 7.

The 12 beds had been provided in the town since last December and were initially due to cease in March. After some extensions, the Bray People reported some weeks ago that the scheme would come to an end at the end of the month.

Deputy John Brady said that a number of the occupants of the shelter received a notice to quit letter from the Simon Community on Friday, May 31, informing them that their place in the facility would close. The Simon Community had been operating the homeless shelter on behalf of Wicklow County Council.

'Wicklow County Council operates the Cold Weather Initiative to provide shelter for those sleeping rough during inclement weather conditions, traditionally terminating the provision at the end of March/April,' said the council in a statement.

'This year, the council extended the provision to continue the key support work with those who engaged with the council and the service providers. Of the clients remaining in the service, move-on options have been identified for most, such as transitioning to supported accommodation, and others have been accepted for the Dublin Homeless services as they are on the Dublin list. The clients have been kept fully aware and informed of developments.'

However, Deputy John Brady has described the decision to close the beds as 'a scandal'.

'At a time when emergency homeless beds are needed more than ever, the decision to close the facility in Bray and put homeless people back onto the streets is a scandal,' said Deputy Brady. 'The housing crisis is continuing to grow with more and more people and families presenting as homeless, we need more houses and emergency accommodation to meet the demand, not closing beds.

'I am dealing with a number of people who had been using the facility and they are back on the streets.

'The only choice they say they have is to get sleeping bags and sleep in a field somewhere. The closure of the beds in Bray comes about only a matter of weeks after the terrible death of a young homeless man in the town.'

Deputy Brady was referring to the death of Krysztof Rudnicki (33), whose remains were found in the Ravenswell area last month.

'People are dying on our streets and the very measly measures being put in place to prevent this, are being shut down. The 12 emergency winter beds in Wicklow were opened before Christmas, but never even met demand in Wicklow. There has been a consistent waiting list to gain access to the emergency beds yet; despite this a decision has been made to close these beds. It is absolutely shameful.'

Deputy Brady said that he has raised the issue of homelessness in Wicklow with Minister Eoghan Murphy. 'His constant reply has been that funding is not an issue and all Wicklow County Council needs to do is ask for funding.'

Bray People