Housing/ asessment of homelessness status and refusal of emergency accommodation
CLM Limerick represented a couple who had an emergency housing need. The couple were living apart and were expecting their first child. Both parents were living in unsuitable accommodation. The father was sleeping on the floor of the washroom facility in the bay of a family member’s caravan and the mother was sleeping on the couch in a two bedroom family home which was occupied by 10 others.
The couple initially presented to CLM Limerick prior to the birth of their child. They had attended with the Homeless Action Team at the Local Authority and had been offered emergency accommodation in the form of separate hostel placements. They rejected this as being entirely unsuitable, as the female client was heavily pregnant with multiple pregnancy related illnesses and needed the support of her partner. They were advised that as they had refused emergency accommodation they no longer met the definition of homelessness in accordance with Section 2 of the Housing Act 1988 and that therefore they were not entitled to emergency accommodation.
CLM Limerick made representation to the local authority seeking to overturn this decision. We also sought priority status for allocation on health grounds including the mental health concerns experienced by the father and the significant complications experienced by the mother during the advanced stages of her pregnancy and on the basis of the continued effective homelessness of the couple. The local authority’s decision was reversed only after we had instructed Counsel to draft proceedings to review the decision and following the issue of a final warning letter in advance of commencing judicial review proceedings. Following the reassessment of their housing needs they were offered emergency accommodation together, initially in hotels and subsequently, in a Family Hub placement.
This reassessment followed extensive representation from CLM Limerick, and as in the previous case, only after the issue of a final warning letter pre issue of judicial review proceedings. Given the ongoing health concerns of the couple and their young child it was vital that they obtain stable family accommodation. This highlights the necessity for the interventions carried out by CLM Limerick in challenging the decisions of the local authority to refuse emergency accommodation on the grounds of refusal of unsuitable and inadequate emergency accommodation.