Ireland’s biggest homeless hostel to close
New facilities to be provided for 90 homeless people
A homeless women in one of the rooms in the Camden Hall hostel in Dublin.
Ireland’s largest homeless hostel, Camden Hall in Dublin, is to close less than a year after being taken over by the Peter McVerry Trust.
The trust is in the process of decommissioning the hostel, which is dilapidated,damp and overcrowded, and replacing it with smaller, community-based facilities.
A former backpackers hostel, Camden Hall was brought into commission as emergency homeless accommodation by Dublin City Council in mid-2011 in response to a sudden rise in rough sleeping in the city.
The trust took over the running of the facility last October at the request of the council, following complaints from a number of charities and agencies in the homeless sector and those using the service.
“It was a shambles. There were bits of sheets and towels on the windows instead of blinds,” trust chief executive Pat Doyle said. “Toilet seats, sanitary bins, sinks, were either broken or non-existent. People were choosing to sleep on the streets instead. We had to spend €11,000 on bed linen alone. The first thing we had to do was get the skips in. The mattresses, everything, had to go.”
The trust, through a combination of council money and its own funds, has spent €50,000 bringing Camden Hall up to a basic standard, but Mr Doyle says the facility is still not fit for purpose.
“Straight away we took the number of beds from 102 down to 90, but it’s still far too big. We’ve raised the standard, but we don’t want to be here. This is the last bastion of the old regime, this type of emergency facility is on the way out.”
In recent weeks the trust has taken eight beds out of the hostel and in the coming weeks it will close the women’s section, removing 18 more. By the end of the summer, Mr Doyle hopes, Camden Hall will be shut for good.
Clearly the need for homeless services has not diminished. The gradual decommissioning of Camden Hall is being facilitated by the opening of new accommodation. The eight beds taken out have been replaced by eight single rooms in a new unit in Tallaght, which will eventually accommodate 16 people. Similar-sized facilities will gradually come on stream in the coming months.
About 40 per cent of the new provision will remain in the city centre, the rest will be based in suburbs.
The new model is for a maximum of three beds a room but in most cases, there will be no more than two. Many will be one bed and all will be ensuite.
This type of accommodation is exemplified by the trust’s unit in Santry, a suburban family home with a living room, kitchen and single en-suite rooms.
“You have your own room, you can do your own laundry, cook your food, there’s an element of structure, you look after your own space and get involved in the house.”
This is supported temporary accommodation.
People can stay for up to six months, they are designated a “key worker” who helps sort out medical cards or bank accounts and ultimately helps people to move on to more permanent accommodation.