Rosemary Fearsaor Hughes (left with guide dog Quilla) and Eileen Gleeson
An open letter to Eileen Gleeson, Dublin Regional Housing Executive, Dublin City Council
As a sight-impaired rough sleeper, I wish to point out some of your misconceptions. Your statement on the causes of homelessness is discriminatory at least and ill advised at best.
I am writing this as a homeless person angered at your flagrant disregard towards other human beings, since you seem to forget that we are human, to rebuke you for the sweeping statement you have made about individuals who find themselves without accommodation.
How many homeless people do you know on a personal level?
We are not all in this situation through “bad behaviour” or through substance abuse. I was without a home and family overnight: not all “homeless people” are bums who want to live off welfare. Many find themselves homeless as a result of landlord greed, or through escaping abusive relationships.
Legislation governing the selling of handicrafts and other honest means of making a living make it impossible for individuals to save money to access private rented accommodation.
I am a Big Issue vendor, on many occasion I have experienced persecution for selling handicrafts that I have made, postcards and other small souvenirs on the streets, I want to earn a living and I will never beg. I am not in receipt of Social Welfare.
I, like many other rough sleepers, do not abuse any substances, including tobacco or alcohol, which is one of several reasons why I wish to have nothing to do with your inadequate and inaccessible hostels, accessed through a degrading freephone number.
Most of the “emergency accommodation ” facilities are unsuitable for an individual with mobility issues or sight impairment. If an accessible bed was available I would gladly accept it, that said there are not enough beds available anyway. The facilities are undignified and individual privacy is minimal.
I am computer literate and want to give something back. I not only read Braille, but I can teach it. I know many other homeless people who want opportunities to contribute to the society which has literally left us in the gutter.
However, once you have the stigma of having been homeless your prospects diminish greatly and your opportunities for obtaining meaningful long-term employment vanish. You are perpetuating that stigma by implying that all who have been or are homeless are in that position through their own wrong doing!
I am going to cast some aspersions of my own. I can be reasonably certain that you have never been without food and not known how you were going to find your next meal, nor that you have ever needed to find cardboard to bed down in a doorway.
You have had an easy life where wants and needs are easily confused. You are out of touch with the reality of what it is to survive with little or nothing and I cannot see how you can be of any benefit to the DHRE, because you have little idea about homelessness.
What is certain is that, on your watch, precisely nothing has been done to solve the long-term problem of homelessness in Dublin. I commend those charities who are doing what they can, which is more than I can say for the DHRE.
So I ask you Eileen Gleeson, how can someone so ill-informed about homelessness and clearly and demonstrably incompetent stay in a job for she is unsuitable with the DHRE?
Rosemary Fearsaor Hughes
A rough sleeper on Grafton Street
Previously: “Years Of Bad Behaviour”