Flexibility Needed to Ensure Care for Homeless Families

By Seamus Whelehan

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An East Cork Cllr, following the closure of the Homeless Persons Unit in Drinan Street, Cork has called on the Local Authority not to let families fall through the cracks into further homelessness.  Last month Cork City Council took over the running of the Homeless Persons Unit from the Department of Social Protection.

The facility, though located in Cork City, dealt with people who presented as homeless from across the county.   Cllr Diarmaid O’Cadhla told a sitting of full Council last week that the recent closure of Drinan Street Homeless Support Unit has led to an increase in people sleeping rough on the streets. He said “while we could understand there would be teething problems in the relocating of service, there has been a number of people left further homeless.”

The member of the Cork Homeless Taskforce said the Cork City Hall policy is not to support people in accommodation which has not been sourced by City Hall.

Prior to the closure of Drinan Street Mr O’Cadhla said “if people located their own accommodation and returned with receipts, the cost of lodging would be covered.”   He said there needs to be flexibility in the service to deal with exceptional circumstances that arise.    The County’s Cllrs, who backed Cllr O’Cadhla, said clarity is needed regarding the new arrangement and how they affect a person who becomes homeless in the County.

Fianna Fail Cllr Seamus McGrath said it was disappointing that information on the transfer of services had not been provided to the County’s public representatives.  He said “People come to us when they are in very difficult circumstances and we need to be able to give them the most up to date information available.  We need clarity brought to bear on it very quickly”

Chief Executive of Cork County, Tim Lucey said that, under the new regime a person who finds themselves homeless in Cork County would continue to present to the Homeless Persons Unit in Cork city.   He said Cork County Council currently has a staff member in City Hall to ensure there are no difficulties for homeless families from the County.

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