Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has urged Dublin City Council to ensure that a 101-bed shelter for rough sleepers that is facing closure by the end of the month remains open.
The Brú Aimsir hostel in the Digital Hub in a State-owned building on Thomas Street was opened as part of the government’s measures last October to cope with homeless people struggling as the winter set in.
It had been due to close at the end of March, but its lease was extended until the end of May following protests by residents and councillors. However, it has begun to wind down and now sleeps 43 a night.
Rough-sleeper numbers in Dublin have increased since the closure of 59 beds in the hostel. A headcount on April 24th recorded 102 people. However, this was conducted before Brú Aimsir cut bed numbers.
In the Dáil this week Mr Coveney said he had spoken to the Dublin City Council manager, Owen Keegan. "I cannot confirm Brú Aimsir will be available for another 12 months yet but I can confirm that the request has gone in."
One of the hostel’s remaining residents, Derek McDonnell (36), lost the room he was renting in a house in
when the owner no longer needed to let it. He was given six months’ notice. During that time he was the victim of a random attack by five men which resulted in extensive skull injuries. He returned to work after the attack, but about three months later had a breakdown. “I was having panic attacks, couldn’t leave the house.”
Having lost his job and his home he moved back in with his mother in October, but “we kept arguing”. In March he bought a tent and camped in Tallaght’s Sean Walsh Park.
“I came back one night and my tent had been burnt. I bit the bullet then and called the homeless freephone number and was put on a couch in Merchants Quay café.”
In April he got a Brú Aimsir bed. “The staff are great. The beds are clean. My recent past has been so unstable. Here I have stability, and my hope is to get a place in supported accommodation, get my own place and go back to training.”
A council spokeswoman said it had made a formal approach to the board of the Digital Hub about extending the lease.
A spokesman for the Digital Hub said a decision would be made “before May 31st, 2016”.