Comment by Alice Leahy in The Irish Times in response to report on the Aungier Street “wet hostel”, April 26, 2005

The Editor
The Irish Times
D’Olier Street
Dublin 2

Dear Madam

The recent article on the “wet hostel” in Aungier Street, Dublin (Weekend Review April 16th) confirms what TRUST has maintained for some time: that national and local government policy towards people who are homeless on our streets is geared to “air brushing” them out of the landscape of the new Ireland, rather than acknowledging their vulnerabilities and rights.

It is very clear from Kitty Holland’s report that a place designed to provide emergency type accommodation for some of society’s most vulnerable has become their de facto permanent home. The only conclusion one can draw is that the main objective of the policymakers is to get them off the streets at all costs, with no provision for essential services and suitable accommodation that would give them a chance to avoid the inevitable consequences of their “chaotic lifestyles” and serious drug dependency.

Those who feel compelled to find their home on the streets are society’s outsiders. Meanwhile, staff working closely with people in totally unsupported and unsuitable accommodation are clearly firefighters, as this excellent article clearly highlighted. People working at this level constantly find themselves excluded from the wider debate around homelessness, and in a sense become outsiders themselves, with an over emphasis on “experts and consultants”.

If we want real change we must adopt a new management philosophy of caring with a participative style instead of allowing those in frontline caring role to feel as marginalized as the people they are seeking to help.

Yours sincerely

Director & Co-Founder