Council needs a Members Oversight Group

Homeless Services are Sub-Standard

The following comments are issues by Cllr Diarmaid Ó Cadhla in relation to his Notice of Motion before Cork County Council today, 14th May 2018:

The proposal itself has been referred to the Housing Special Policy Committee (SPC) for further consideration… we will update again once that happens.

Despite committing significant levels of public funds to provision of services to the homeless there seems to be no plan to oversee this expenditure.

I am calling for the establishment of a Members Oversight Group, inviting colleagues from City Council to join us, along with relevant Council staff, so as to engage with service users and access the effectiveness of the services provided.

A question has been put to establish the level of expenditure on homeless services, however the figure, between city and county, is thought to reach €10 million at least per annum.

There should be oversight and accountability on the spending of this public money.

It is my direct experience that the homeless services are sub-standard, as the following may illustrate:

In the South Cork Divisional area a homeless person must register with the Homeless Persons Unit based in Drinan Street in the city – this unit is currently run by the HSE but it liaises with both local authorities and other service providers.

There are queues every morning – opening from 9.30am to about 12 o’clock – the scene is like how one might imagined a workhouse scene of older times.

The facility admits people, often young family groups, into a very small waiting room, doors are locked, and eventually one individual is admitted to an even tinier ‘room’ – in which they speak through a hatch with the staff – the space is cramped and unsafe.

The facilities on being admitted to Cork Jail are more humane and dignified than those available while ‘being processed’ at Drinan Street.

Young mothers are mixed in the queue, and in the very small waiting room, with individuals who suffer various addictions and are often drunk.

On interview, people are advised that there is no accommodation, they are referred to the Simon, St. Vincent’s or Edel House – otherwise they are referred to a number of hostels in the city where their accommodation will be subsidised with a €20 daily payment.

People are regularly sent to these hostels (names available) to be advised that they do not take homeless people!  Apparently the hostel managers have repeatedly advised Drinan Street that they should stop referring homeless people to them.

However, every day a whole queue of people receive the €20 subsidy for hostel accommodation anyway.

The fact is, the money given out at Drinan Street for hostels is generally spent on drink!

We are enabling addiction and condemning the unfortunate individuals involved to a life of hell, one which frequently results in their tragic death.

Drinan Street makes NO effort to rehabilitate or genuinely solve the homeless problem, it is not designed to do so – the staff are working in unsafe conditions and are under-resourced as it is.

The Homeless Persons Unit at Drinan Street should be closed down immediately!

The other shelters in Cork, the Simon, St. Vincent’s and Edel House need to be accessed in regard to their effectiveness and how they address the need for rehabilitation – they have serious questions to answer.

Establishing a Housing Oversight Group will be a first step, and is overdue, as members have responsibility for policy in this area.

by:

An Comhairleoir Diarmaid Ó Cadhla
on Monday 14th May 2018

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