Vulnerable families still being placed in completely unsuitable night by night Emergency Accommodation

We are most concerned to see vulnerable families still being placed on night to night provision of homeless accommodation. We are seeing first-hand the very negative impact such provision is having on the health and well-being of young children and their distressed parents.

Just last week we met with a homeless family with four young children, who were being accommodated by the local authority on a night to night basis only. The family had been on the housing list for several years.

The family had been living in private rented accommodation but the landlord’s family member was due to move in and on that basis the family were served with a valid notice of termination of their tenancy. Unable to source alternative private rented accommodation, the family presented as homeless. Rather than being put into a rolling booking for accommodation and placed in a hotel or B&B or even better a hub or family-suitable accommodation, the family were told they could only access night to night provision.

For over six weeks, the family moved accommodation every day. The family, together with their four children ranging from 7 years to 23 months, have had to leave the B&B or hotel each morning, transport their older children to school from whichever location they had been placed in, and then pass the day and early evening with nowhere to go. The family spend long periods in libraries and shopping centres to avoid being out in the cold. The family had to ring after 4pm each day to confirm their need for accommodation that evening. They ordinarily did not receive confirmation of where they were staying each night until after 7pm and did not reach the accommodation until after 8pm. The family have had to rely on takeaways in the absence of cooking facilities and experienced difficulties washing and drying their clothes. A letter from their GP confirmed that the children were presenting frequently with chest injections and the doctor believed were brought on by the absence of excessive exposure to the outside.

After meeting with the family, we immediately telephoned the local authority to insist that the family be placed in stable and suitable emergency accommodation. We were advised by the housing section that there was a new policy in place that limited the access to the ‘self-accommodation option’ and prevented the family from booking themselves into a B&B or hotel for a week period or more. We asked that the case be immediately reviewed and followed up with written representations on behalf of the family.

Within two days, the local authority reviewed the case and confirmed the family were indeed eligible for Section 10 homeless accommodation and that they would be permitted to access a rolling booking. The local authority however stated that they had no availability in any family hub accommodation and stated that they do not operate a waiting list for their hubs, so were not able to give any indication as to when suitable family accommodation would be available.

While we are relieved that this matter resolved very quickly, a number of concerns arise.

Firstly, there was no apparent consideration by the local authority of the needs or best interests of the very young children in this case. There was no apparent consideration of the very serious difficulties night to night provision was causing for the family. This was despite excellent submissions made by an advocate who was assisting the family and who set out the difficulties very clearly in written correspondence to the local authority. The manner in which the emergency accommodation was provided failed to vindicate the best interests of the child and there appears to be no consideration of the Constitutional protection of children by the local authority, when exercising its statutory obligations.

Secondly, we are concerned at the absence of suitable family-type accommodation by way of a hub or other alternatives available to this family. There appear to be significant barriers to accessing family-suitable accommodation. We note that there appears to be a complete lack of transparency in relation to how families access hub or family-suitable accommodation; we are also concerned at the lack of any waiting list that would ensure there was some exit route for this and other families many of whom have been residing in hotels and B&Bs for extended periods.

 

 

 

 

For more information on Mercy Law Resource Centre’s work, please see www.mercylaw.ie.

 

 

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All information provided on this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Click here to read more.

 

 

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MLRC welcomes new Locum Solicitor

MLRC are delighted to welcome Sabrina Sullivan to the team as locum solicitor. Sabrina has wide-ranging experience on housing and social welfare matters.

Sabrina completed her LLB at the University of Essex, during which time she was the recipient of the Suffolk and North Essex Law Society Prize for best overall performance in her class. Further to this she received the Pearson Education Prize for outstanding performance in Administrative Law. Sabrina has trained as a barrister in the UK and in 2006 completed an LLM in Human Rights in Queens University, Belfast, being awarded the Stephen Livingstone Scholarship.

Sabrina’s extensive legal experience is very relevant to the work of MLRC. Most recently, Sabrina acted as a Constitutency Affairs Manager at the Houses of the Oireachtas. She has volunteered regularly with FLAC. Sabrina has a keen interest in the area of discrimination and disability rights, and is fluent in both Spanish and sign language. She was formerly a senior solicitor at the Plumstead Community Law Centre in the UK, and a trustee of the Discrimination Law Association.

We are very grateful to have Sabrina join us a locum solicitor and warmly welcome her to our team.

 

 

 

 

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All information provided on this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Click here to read more.

 

 

 

 

MLRC Open Training in Housing Law, November 28th, 2018

Mercy Law Resource Centre Open Housing Law Training

MLRC is delighted to announce that we will be running

an open housing law training session 

Date: 28th of November, 2018

Time: 9.30am – 1pm

Venue: Wisdom Centre, Sophia Housing Complex, 25 Cork Street, Dublin 8.

This training is open to any individuals working in the field of housing

and homelessness.

How to book a place on this course:

The cost per participant is €60.

For more information on what will be covered in the training, please click here.

Other individuals and organisations who have attended the training previously,

have provided us with the following feedback:

 

“The training was excellent, very practical and I like hearing about all the case studies.

You are doing an excellent job. Keep it up!

 You are a great and a very well needed resource for people.”

It was very enjoyable, especially the case studies.

            “It will really help our understanding of housing and homelessness cases.”

The spaces for this training are limited so please do book early if you wish to attend.

If you are interested in booking a place(s) for this housing law training

please contact Shauna Curran, MLRC Administrator, at Mercy Law Resource Centre

on 01 4537459 or by email to events@mercylaw.ie by 5pm on 23rd of November.

 

Please note, due to high demand for places on this training,

bookings can only be secured by payment.

We would be very happy to hear from you!

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Disclaimer

All information provided on this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Click here to read more.