Up to 30 men recovering from addiction face homelessness

Greystones building which accommodates their supported housing is being sold

Up to 30 recovering addicts face homelessness as the owners of a property used as a residential rehab centre have given the operators, Tiglin, notice to quit. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

Up to 30 vulnerable men, recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, face homelessness as the building which accommodates their supported housing is being sold by the owners, the Irish Assemblies of God.

The IAOG, also known as Christian Churches Ireland, is a Pentecostal denomination and company limited by guarantee. It has about 30 congregations in Ireland, their values underpinned by commitments to “share resources for the common good”, “ rejoice in each other’s successes and encourage in times of difficulties”, and, “respond compassionately to real felt needs in society”. 

Among its  congregations is Saol Nua, which meets at Carraig Eden House - a large Victorian building, in Greystones, Co Wicklow

Post-rehabilitation, many will have very few supports available, not a whole lot of social networks to fall back on

Supported housing, by a drug, alcohol and gambling addiction rehabilitation charity Tiglin, is also provided in Carraig Eden. Men who have completed its 11-month residential rehabilitation programme at a separate facility in nearby Ashford, progress to Carraig Eden, where they spend between six months and three years reintegrating into life. Tiglin rents rooms from the IAOG in the building.

“What we found,” says Aubrey McCarthy, chairman of Tiglin, “is that post-rehabilitation many will have very few supports available, not a whole lot of social networks to fall back on. So here they remain in a Tiglin community but live independently, and they have that support and space to renew relationships and rebuild their lives.”

The men (women are treated by Tiglin in separate facilities) pay €75 a week in rent, cook for themselves and must either work, go back to education or do voluntary work.

High success rate

Its programme has a high success rate – 70 per cent of participants remain clean and sober long-term – and the residential post-rehabilitation programme in Carraig Eden, provided since 2010, is regarded as essential to that.

However, the IAOG wants to sell Carraig Eden, and despite having reached an agreement to sell it to Tiglin for €1.7 million, it withdrew from the arrangement, citing a higher offer of €3 million from a developer. The €1.7 million price had itself been an increased since April 2015, when IAOG had originally agreed in principle to sell to Tiglin and had sought €1 million.

There have been a series of stops and starts in negotiations between Tiglin and the IAOG since 2015, including revaluations of the property. Tiglin applied and got “approved housing body” status in order to apply for funding from the Department of Housing, and there were meetings with Wicklow County Council and local TD and Minister for Health Simon Harris.

On February 16th the council received approval from the Department of Housing for the “acquisition and refurbishment” of Carraig Eden – a €3 million project which would see the State contributing €1.6 million towards it purchase and the balance towards it refurbishment for the purpose of providing supported housing for men in recovery.

A mother-of-five whose accomplice in a robbery pierced the skin of a taxi driver with a syringe has been sentenced to three years in jail, with the final six months suspended.
"You do a lot of things as an addict which make you hate yourself. I thought I’d die a drug addict, die hating myself, die afraid."

“Just before the Easter weekend we got the dreadful news from IAOG that they had had a higher offer and they want us all out of here by the beginning of June,” said Mr McCarthy. “It is a real crisis for our residents. This is their home. The likelihood is many will end up in situations that could really hamper their recovery. They are vulnerable.”

So I was functioning in some way, but not as a dad and not in relationships

Very lonely

Among those who will be affected is John Doyle (51), from Wicklow, who, having “grown up around a lot of violence and not a lot of love”, began drinking in his teens.

“It made me forget about things” but also “very lonely and I hadn’t a clue how to accept love”. He worked as a painter, and has two adult children. “So I was functioning in some way, but not as a dad and not in relationships.”

Following a suicide attempt in 2015, he was referred for alcohol counselling and into Tiglin, which he entered as a “broken, broken and bitter man”. He has completed the addiction programme, and has been in Carraig Eden since November.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of my issues, but I have a lot of damage still to repair. I have a long way to go and feel very vulnerable.”

Thomas Barret (43) from Tallaght, Dublin, has overcome over 20 years of addiction to heroin, methadone and crack cocaine since beginning in Tiglin, also in 2015.

What we have here is love, and we look out for each other

“I grew up around a lot of brokenness, a lot of addiction, and I got into heroin. You do a lot of things as an addict which make you hate yourself. I thought I’d die a drug addict, die hating myself, die afraid. Being here in Tiglin, it was the first time in my life I wasn’t in fear, and you start to see past your brokenness.”

Sobriety

Asked his fear if he loses his home in Carraig Eden, Thomas says: “My sobriety. I am doing well. I am running a drop-in centre for the homeless in Bray, but it’s hard living after addiction. What we have here is love, and we look out for each other.”

Mr McCarthy said Tiglin did not “want to get into a war of words” with the IAOG. “We just appeal to them to come back to the table and see if we can come to an agreement that will safeguard this service. “

The chairman and a representative of IAOG were contacted by The Irish Times for comment, by phone and text. A return call was promised but not received.