City hotel isolates homeless residents

by Gazette Reporter

PEOPLE seeking emergency accommodation in a Dublin City hotel are being segregated from regular guests during breakfast hours at weekends.
The Gazette has learned that this hotel makes its emergency accommodation guests eat in a separate, smaller breakfast area from 8am to 10am on Saturdays and Sundays, away from other paying guests.
On weekdays, they can access normal breakfast quarters, but only for a 30-minute period from 8am to 8.30am.
A Clondalkin mother-of-three, who has been living in the hotel on a day-to-day basis, told The Gazette she felt degraded having to eat her breakfast away from regular guests.
She said: “On the weekend we get put into a really small, separate room for our breakfast. Everyone who is homeless are all put together in that room. When I first discovered this I couldn’t believe it and decided not to go back down there again – I just thought it was very degrading. We’re not staying there for free. The hotel is paid and we’re being treated differently from everyone else.
“My children have asked me why they have to eat in this room and not the other one with everyone else. I’d rather starve than eat away from everyone else. I just don’t think it’s fair.
“On top of this you only have a half an hour during the weekdays from 8am to 8.30am to eat your breakfast. It’s not fair because if you had to leave at 7.30am you couldn’t avail of this service.
“I know they’re trying to get rid of the homeless people from this hotel, but to be honest I can understand why they’re doing it. Some guests living there treat the place very poorly and seem to be taking advantage of the whole system.”
She added that she had to fight “tooth and nail” to get into this hotel in the first place as up to 50 families were ahead of her waiting to be placed there.
“I was in a private rental house in Clondalkin, but the landlord sold it so I had to move out and couldn’t find alternative accommodation. I was originally put in the Bewleys hotel in Newlands Cross by Focus Ireland, but we were then moved to the hotel that we’re staying in now, but only on a day-to-day basis.
“We have to eat most of our meals in places like McDonald’s, Burger King, or KFC because we don’t have a cooker or even a fridge. I also handwash all of my clothes in the sink because it costs too much money to go to a laundrette.
“A lot of people in my family’s situation have no voice, and I think more people need to speak out and let their voices be heard,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Dublin Region Homeless Executive said: “There’s probably a logical rationale [for the separation]. We’re not in a position whereby we want to be using hotels as accommodation. The difficulty we have is that we have no access to accommodation for a lot of families so it’s a real concern and an issue for us. The hotel experience, as we’re aware, is really difficult, so we’re not trying to make that any worse. So if there is a logic to it, I need to be able to establish what happened in that situation.”
The spokesperson said that if the Gazette named the hotel, they ran “the risk of losing hotels because they’re commercial entities”.
“We run the risk of actually losing placement for families if we name hotels. It does happen so in every situation we try and mitigate against it because it’s the association sometimes in relation to homelessness. So what we try to do, in as much as we can, is protect where people are staying…location is fine but maybe the name of the hotel is not referenced because we have other families there as well, so it’s not a very stable situation for us to be in because we don’t have full control because they are commercial entities.”
Commenting on this issue, a spokesperson from South Dublin County Council said 38 families seeking accommodation were currently housed in emergency accommodation in local hotels.
“Every family placed in private emergency accommodation [including hotels] are referred to the Focus Ireland new presenters team for initial assessment and care planning to identify all housing options available and support families out of homeless services.
“It is not possible to advise regarding the length of time a family may be placed in hotel accommodation. Hotel placements are a last resort and not sustainable for long periods of time,” said the spokesperson.

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