Housing Crisis: Charity CEO let family sleep in his office instead of at station

Inner City Helping Homeless chief executive Anthony Flynn.
Inner City Helping Homeless chief executive Anthony Flynn.

The chief executive of a Dublin charity offered his office, at midnight, to a homeless family with two children.

Cheryl Barnewell, Glen Concannon, and their sons, Clayton, 9, and Rocco, 23 months, were among seven homeless families who could not find emergency accommodation in Dublin on Tuesday night.

They had been advised to sleep in a Garda station when no emergency accommodation was available for them. The family presented to a station but ended up sleeping on the office floor of a homeless charity.

They were engaged with the city’s homeless action team, which is State-funded and operated by Focus Ireland.

When the team was unable to source emergency hotel accommodation despite the help of the Central Placement Service, the families were advised to go to a Garda station to avoid sleeping on the street or in a car.

As a last resort, Ms Barnewell texted Inner City Helping Homeless chief executive Anthony Flynn at midnight.

He rang more than 50 hotels trying to find accommodation for the family.

After being unable to source accommodation, he gave the family use of his office to sleep in.

“I have never heard of a family being directed to a Garda station before,” Mr Flynn told the Irish Examiner.

“They have been forced into this situation [sleeping in my office]. This is a genuine case, it shouldn’t have happened.

“Glen was up at 6am for work. These are working people. They are decent people.”

Mr Flynn described Tuesday night as “absolutely catastrophic” on the capital’s streets

“In four years, we counted the highest number of rough sleepers on the streets on Tuesday night — 173. It was the same on Wednesday night. We also had the highest number of homeless families contacting us seeking accommodation,” said Mr Flynn.

He believes that there are more families in this situation but they are afraid to speak up in case it affects their chance of receiving accommodation in the future.

Mike Allen, director of advocacy at Focus Ireland, said promises have been made in the past in order to stop families from going homeless.

Dublin City Council has more than doubled the volume of emergency contingency capacity available to any family that may present in an emergency situation.

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