Friday 28 October 2016

'Close hostels and I'm back on street' - homeless woman

Rosemary Fearsaor Hughes and her guide dog, Quilla
Rosemary Fearsaor Hughes and her guide dog, Quilla

A visually-impaired homeless woman has urged Dublin City Council not to close two hostels until new services have been provided and more rough-sleeper beds are available.

"The council simply does not have the beds. They need to open services before closing services down," said Rosemary Fearsaor Hughes.

"There's no space, it's just crazy. They knew this was coming. They knew they were closing it down. Why did they not set up a moving-on place?"


The John's Lane West hostel and the Bru Aimsir hostel, which house around 130 people each night, are due to close at the end of this month.

Ms Hughes (32), who has lived between Britain and Ireland and has a guide dog named Quilla, has been staying at the John's Lane West hostel for the past six weeks.

She said the alternative acc- ommodation offered to her had too many stairs, making it inaccessible. She said she will happily accept anywhere that is accessible.

Focus Ireland arranged for her to return to the John's Lane West hostel last night.

"There's a high likelihood that I'll be sleeping rough again," she said.

"There's part of me that's really, really frustrated because it's like, 'Oh, we need to do this and we need to do that', and it's like, well, get off your backside and do it, because talk is cheap.

"I've always had problems getting hostel beds because I'm sight-impaired.

"There have always been issues, but the freephone system to find a place to sleep is woefully inadequate.

"It just doesn't work. You could be holding the line for an hour and then you'll get cut off and then you'll be number 50 in the queue again.

"Someone who's homeless actually wants to express to a person what they're going through."

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), which co- ordinates homelessness services, was unable to comment on individual cases but provided information on the imminent hostel closures.

"The council entered into a temporary lease arrangement with the Digital Hub Development Agency, with the specific purpose to have additional capacity over the winter period as a humanitarian response to the major challenge of rough sleeping," a spokeswoman said.


"In that regard, it was never intended that Bru Aimsir would be a permanent facility.

"Its use has been extended until the end of May because of the cold weather. It will close on May 31. All Cold Weather Initiative beds will have been withdrawn at that stage."

The John's Lane West hostel was also an "interim provision", and alternative accommodation is being sought for those living there.

Thirty-one new housing units are to be built on the site of the hostel and must be completed by the end of next year.

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