I am delighted to welcome the Minister of State to the House. The closure of the homeless shelter in Cedar House, Marlborough Place, Dublin 1 was sudden and unilateral. It came without consultation with the staff or any notice to the clientele, and I understand it is being implemented next month. As of yet, the representatives of the workers in the shelter have not been able to have any consultations or negotiations. The first meeting took place today. That is not the way to conduct business, especially when it is being conducted in regard to the most vulnerable people in our society.
The homeless centre in Cedar House has approximately 50 residential occupants per night and approximately 40 to 50 who get day care service provided by doctors and nurses, which is essential. It also has a regular supply, so to speak, of people who come along and get sleeping bags on a 24 hour basis from the hostel. The hostel provides a very valuable service as a night shelter for people coming from different walks of life who need that type of facility.
As I said, there has been no debate on this decision, apart from what has taken place behind closed doors. The Government strategy on homelessness, The Way Home: A Strategy to Address Adult Homelessness in Ireland 2008 to 2013, is just a work of fiction. There is a commitment in that strategy to end long-term homelessness by this year.
It is outrageous to make such a commitment without providing facilities for it.
The provision of social housing has never been so bad. Every week dozens attend my constituency clinics who cannot get social housing because the local authority is not building new units, conducting maintenance on vacant units or extending existing units to cater for larger families or a disability. Up to 60,000 people are in need of social housing while there is a declaration in the homelessness strategy that long-term homelessness will be ended by this year. As we well know, when it comes to social housing provision, it is the homeless who are at the bottom of the pile, the last to be dealt with and given a permanent home. There is no sense in the Minister telling us this will change. The last thing we need is the closing down of one of the two shelters on Dublin's north side, putting the people in question on the street, while expecting the already inadequate services and facilities to be able to provide for them.
The 45 people employed at Cedar House and their representatives were treated disgracefully. They were not informed until last week about this decision made before Christmas and behind closed doors. They were informed at the same time as the clientele in the hostel were.