THE only single women’s emergency hostel in the region is to close during the daytime due to “unsustainable” debts and cuts to funding.
From July 1, the Thomond House Shelter in Thomondgate will only open evenings and overnight, leaving its 24 residents left to wander the streets of Limerick by day.
The facility run by the Associated Charities Trust (ACT) is in debt by €60,000, due to cuts in HSE funding, and the fact it has to pay bridging finance on an extension which may never get off the ground due to flood-plain issues.
Manager of the centre Deirdre Cronin said the time had come to make “tough decisions”.
“This is something that has been forced upon us. We have 24 beds here, 24 people who have chaotic lives, and they depend on us. Our lottery funding has been cut by 50% and will be eliminated after this year. We have had cuts from the HSE over the last four years. We have tried not to pass on this cut, but we are now in a position where we are left with no choice,” Ms Cronin told the Limerick Leader.
For the last six years, Thomond House has been preparing to open an extension to its facility in derelict houses across the road.
But following February’s flooding, its plans could now be placed in “jeopardy”, says Hugh Silke, founding director of Thomond House.
The ACT has purchased the units, and has secured funding from JP McManus, regeneration and the Department of the Environment to develop 18 one-bedroom houses to provide permanent supported housing to people.
It secured planning permission from City Hall back in January 2008, and has spent the last five years putting in place finances for the project.
But after this expired in January 2013, the charity has struggled to secure an extension of duration to its permission because the land is subject to flooding.
Mr Silke says if planning is refused, the project is gone.
“We need this project to be adjacent for the existing service to support it. There is no funding from Revenue for new staff in this service. So the idea is that staff currently working would support the residents in the new unit,” he said.
He added that they have proposed a number of solutions to City and County Council, including higher entrances to the site, and raising part of the height of the split-level building, but to no avail.
And the bridging finances they are paying on the site opposite is one of the causes of the debt problem.
“It is a financial strain on us. All our fundrasing efforts quickly cross the road,” confirmed Ms Cronin.
Although Thomond House will close during the days of the summer months, it is hoped it will open around-the-clock when the days get colder in winter.
A spokesman for the council’s homeless services section say they hope to be in a position to resolve the situation as soon as possible.