Hostel accommodation, and support, for homeless women should be provided for by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Currently there is no permanent facility anywhere in Northern Ireland.
Belfast’s Regina Coeli hostel, which had been run by the Legion of Mary, closed in January of this year and no alternative service has been provided.
The Workers Party has contacted the Department for the Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive demanding not only a commitment to open a new hostel facility but also transparency in the process.
The DfC has said that a ‘preferred provider’ has been identified and that negotiations are on-going. But they refuse to name that potential provider – most likely a local charity – because they say the information is commercial confident.
Homeless hostel accommodation should be provided directly by the NIHE. No matter how good a charitable organisation is, the statutory responsibility to provide the service rests with the NIHE. The former hostel staff, with their wealth of experience are also the best placed group of people run a new hostel.
The lack of women only accommodation is not a simple administrative matter. Health, well-being and lives are at stake. The Housing Executive, supported by health social services and mental health services, must step up immediately, assume responsibility and provide a first class ssrvice wioth first class staff.
Picture: Workers Party members suporting the Regina Coeli staff last year