Hostels

Complaints from people staying in Dublin’s homeless shelters drop from 34 in 2020 to 122 in 2021


File photo of bunk beds in a shared room

Source: Shutterstock / Radiokafka

THE NUMBER OF complaints from people staying in homeless shelters run by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) has increased from 34 last year to 122 so far in 2021 – more than triple to this day this year.

The complaints focused on issues such as drug use in institutions, allegations of bullying and blood stains on the sheets.

The nature of the complaints lodged by residents of homes managed by the DRHE, or on behalf of the organization by a private company, was communicated to The newspaper via an access to information request (FOI).

The DRHE Рon behalf of the four Dublin local authorities, Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council and D̼n Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Рis the lead agency responsible for addressing homelessness in the capital.

The organization works with several NGOs and private companies to run dozens of hostels and other accommodation facilities for the homeless in the Dublin area.

According to statistics released by the Housing Department last month, 8,830 people are listed as homeless in Ireland, of which more than 6,000 are based in Dublin.

Nearly 800 families are homeless in the capital, the majority of these staying in private emergency accommodation such as hotels, hostels and other residential establishments.

Screenshot 2021-12-10 12.25.14

Source: DRHE

Most hostels are located in Dublin 1, Dublin 7 and Dublin 8.

“The bedspreads are covered in blood”

Several people have lodged a complaint this year with the DRHE for allegedly being harassed or harassed by other residents.

One person said he was the victim of “verbal abuse and threatening behavior”, while another said that he was “assaulted by another resident”.

A man complained that other people were using drugs and drinking alcohol in a shared room at the hostel in question. Another person said that a new resident who had moved in would throw parties, start fights and “usually cause trouble”.

The condition of rooms and other areas in some of the hostels was also of concern to some residents. One person said that “the bedspreads were covered in blood” and that the laundry area at this particular hostel was “dirty” and unusable.

In another case, a resident complained of meals being served in a small room with a lack of social distancing despite official guidelines from Covid.

In some cases, complainants have requested access to CCTV footage to substantiate their claims.

A spokesperson for the DRHE said The newspaper the increase in complaints this year “reflects the success” of an awareness campaign on the “right to complain” and the appointment of a designated complaints officer.

“We use the complaints process to learn, adapt and improve the services available to our customers and remain committed to our goal of providing safe and efficient services to anyone who is homeless,” said the spokesperson.

In a statement, they noted that the DRHE “proactively encourages anyone who uses emergency accommodation and wishes to file a complaint to do so”.

Individuals can file a complaint directly with the Complaints Officer by phone, email, or using the complaint form on the DRHE website.

All people staying in homeless shelters are given information on how to access the service and how to file a complaint if necessary. These guidelines have been translated into a number of different languages.

Complaints procedure

The spokesperson said that the complaints procedure “deals with any aspect of a service, accommodation or support, provided by a third party under contract with the DRHE”, while a complaint against any authority Local or DRHE staff can be filed using the DRHE complaint process. competent local authority.

All complaints are investigated within three weeks of receipt, with a formal response delivered to the person who lodged the complaint at first instance, the spokesperson said.

“The procedure for handling complaints (whether they concern a private establishment or accommodation provided by one of our partner NGOs) does not change and each complaint is recorded in a complaints management system. “

They noted that the role of the complaints officer “is to deal with the complaint with the service provider, to remain independent and to take an objective look at each complaint received”.

“The Complaints Officer will engage with the complainant to gather as much information as possible and assurances are given that each complainant will be treated in a professional, confidential and efficient manner. The DRHE facilities team can perform on-site inspections to clarify issues or ensure the supplier has addressed the issue.

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The spokesperson indicated that when a complaint against a provider is accepted, the DRHE formally orders the provider to rectify it “immediately”.

“If the complaint is of a criminal nature, we encourage, advise and help the complainant to contact An Garda Síochána. “

In cases where there is an excessive number of complaints about a particular installation – compared to installations of similar use and size – and multiple complaints have been accepted, or when DRHE officials find that the standards do not do not comply with the requirements, the organization would “review the contractual arrangement”.

The spokesperson said the DRHE is committed to keeping residents in emergency accommodation where possible, rather than banning them from entering the premises. Service users in need are referred to addiction or mental health services as needed.

However, if it turns out that a user of the service violates the internal rules of an establishment, “there is a warning procedure leading to an exclusion for serious or repeated breach of the internal rules”.

“If a service user poses an immediate threat to the safety of staff or other service users within the establishment, there are grounds for exclusion with recourse to An Garda Síochána”, added the spokesperson. .