Sunday 23 October 2016

Abusive staff, rodents - two of 113 complaints by homeless in shelters

Problems for homeless people don't end once they secure emergency housing
Problems for homeless people don't end once they secure emergency housing

A homeless man was called a "whingeing culchie b*****d" by a cleaner in a homeless shelter after he asked for a new base for his bed.

He said that he had requested a new base for his bed, as he had undergone an operation on his spine and needed a level surface on which to sleep.

He complained that the cleaner "came into my bedroom and called me a whingeing culchie b*****d for requesting a base for my bed ... she repeated this on two or three occasions".

The manager of the shelter later apologised to the man and the cleaner received a verbal warning from her bosses about the incident, which occurred on February 6.

In a complaint to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), the man described the woman's verbal abuse as "despicable behaviour".

A senior member of staff at the establishment contacted the DHRE to assure them that the matter had been dealt with. Both the staff member who contacted the DHRE and the house manager had apologised to the client. The cleaner was also due to apologise.


When asked about the events, the cleaner said that the remark was "meant in jest and that she didn't mean to cause offence".

The complaint was just one of some 113 sent to the DHRE between January and November 25.

Another complaint concerned an infestation of mice, with a woman reporting, via her case worker, that her children had difficulty sleeping due to the sound of the rodents running around the apartment.

A complaint on January 16, which was marked "resolved", was recorded as a "complaint regarding the house manager looking to borrow money off clients, and unreasonable requests of house work. Property owner investigating".

In some instances, complaints about damp, mould or other housing maintenance issues were found not to be backed up by evidence following inspections.

Most of the complaints are marked "resolved". Residents also reported bed bugs and cockroaches in some of the dwellings. One family in emergency accommodation had a scabies infestation in early November.

A number of homeless people complained about the unsuitability of emergency hotel accommodation due to noise, late bar-opening hours, and a lack of facilities.

Several parents raised concerns about the condition of their accommodation, which they feared was having an adverse impact on their children's health. In some cases, the children already had health problems.

A public health nurse also raised concern about a hotel, which she felt was unsuitable, and she relayed reports from two separate families of going to the kitchen to make breakfast one morning and finding that someone had defecated on the floor.

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