No space in women’s refuges due to Dublin city housing crisis

State agency concedes that women fleeing domestic violence offered sleeping bags

Six young homeless people have moved into apartments on Pim Street near Marrowbone Lane, Dublin, organised by the Peter McVerry Trust. The apartments were renovated with €100,000 in funding from French insulation company St Gobain.

 

Up to 80 per cent of women fleeing domestic violence were turned away from Dublin refuges in the first quarter of this year because of the crisis in accommodation in the city.

Some women, including those who sought emergency help along with their children, had to be given sleeping bags because of a lack space in Dublin refuges, according to Tusla, the Children and Family Agency.

The State agency, which has responsibility for victims of domestic violence, said the first-quarter figures required further validation but the indications were that almost twice the number of women and families were being turned away from refuges this year as last year.

In one refuge only one in 10 women who sought help were accommodated up to the end of March this year. Two of the city’s four domestic violence refuges said they had to give out sleeping bags – a step never taken before in the city.

Small child

Joan Mullan

Dublin’s women’s crisis refuges have places for 33 women with up to 80 children. The average time women spend in these emergency accommodation units has risen from 16 days in 2011 to 24 days in the first quarter of 2015.

Spaces are not being freed up in these units because there is nowhere for the women and their children to move on to due to the lack of housing in the city, Ms Mullan said.

“The process for getting service-users on to housing lists and advocating for the needs of women and children has become more difficult...A concerning point is for the first time refuges are not able to accommodate people.”

Only one in 10 women moved from the refuges to private rented accommodation in the first three months of the year. More than a quarter returned to an abusive partner.

Ms Mullan said service providers could not meet the women’s needs if they were unable to provide shelter.

Very difficult

She said front-line staff in crisis refuges were facing difficult decisions. “Services providers are left with very difficult choices in who they provide services to and how they manage the demands. That’s really difficult for front -line staff who are actually dealing with women and families.”

Last month Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin said Tusla was cutting its statutory funding by 20 per cent.

In response, Tusla said it had prioritised access to services by vulnerable adults, children and families who experienced domestic violence and sexual violence in its 2015 budget.

“Tusla is committed to maintaining funding for the frontline services provided by Women’s Aid and has asked them to make savings of 20 per cent across the indirect services it provides, such as training,” a spokeswoman said.