Johns Lane West hostel occupation report


July 4th in Dublin saw homeless people occupy a 40 bed hostel they are being evicted from so that it can eventually be turned into long term housing.  The Irish Housing Network which is supporting the residents posted that Johns Lane West provided shelter and accommodation for over 40 people. A few months ago DCC and Focus Ireland announced they were closing the hostel to build apartments on the site. On Monday July 4th when the hostel was supposed to close, residents with nowhere else to go refused to leave and occupied the building.

The loss of 42 beds means another 42 people at risk of sleeping on the streets. With no new beds opened, if Johns Lane closes permanently more people will be forced onto the street.

One resident, Rosemary Amber Fearsaor-Hughes, wrote that “As I write this I am sitting in McDonalds with another resident of Johns Lane West hostel, my Guide dog and my life in a backpack! .. People are being left to die, on the streets whilst the government continues to rely on charities to provide a stop gap/sticking plaster to attempt to contain the homeless crisis. We need to hold those accountable in government, who have the responsibility to ensure safety and security for their constituents. What we are asking are basic human rights, to live with dignity and respect, not to have to worry about who sleeping in the same room as you!”

The building is owned by Focus Ireland who intend to demolish it and build 31 apartments for the long-term accommodation of people who are homeless. While this intention is to be applauded the existing residents found themselves in the situation where what had become their slightly stable accommodation was being removed from them in a context where over 800 families in Dublin are homeless and 100 people are sleeping on the street. It will take 18 months to build the new accommodation and in the meantime nothing has been done to replace the 40 beds lost. This is a city where tens of thousands of properties and lots lie vacant because property developers and landlords don’t feel they can make enough profit now through turning them into homes.

Karoline, a resident inside the hostel told the IHN :”How do you excuse the closure of the shelter, when we are in desperate need of more accommodation? How do you explain leaving 40 more people on the freephone (an already inhumane and flawed system) to compete with over 500 people, for beds on a night to night basis? We need more beds (there isn't enough)! We are human, we have the right to feel safe and we will not back down until suitable accommodation is provided for all of us

With an increasing Garda presence at the hostel the residents brought the occupation to an end around 10pm last night.

In any city that treated housing as a right this showdown would not have happened. The residents would have been provided with secure accommodation when the redevelopment was underway. The underfunding of housing that has been going on for decades alongside the reliance on charities to provide essential services created a situation where the residents were stripped of their dignity and lost their accommodation in an entirely unacceptable manner. The governments excuse is the same as it always is, a lack of funds. But this lack of funds is a politically created situation that is a deliberate product of the escalating wealth gap that allows the super wealthy and corporations to avoid paying tax.
Pictures & much of this text taken from the Irish Housing Network page