Northern Ireland news

Plans to close Belfast's only homeless hostel for women 'should be halted'

Regina Coeli House hostel in west Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

PLANS to close Belfast's only homeless hostel for women should be halted to allow an alternative solution to be found, Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has said.

Regina Coeli House hostel in west Belfast, which has been providing temporary accommodation to the homeless since 1935, is to close in spring.

A recent survey of the building, which is owned by Catholic voluntary organisation the Legion of Mary, found that it needed substantial repairs costing more than £500,000.

The hostel has around 20 beds but has had to reduce the number of residents it can accommodate due to Covid.

Nine women are living in the hostel, which also has 12 staff.

Mr Maskey met representatives from the hostel's management team yesterday.

"What I have asked them to do is put a halt to this process to allow others to explore options," he said.

"This will allow a bit of clarity and a bit of space to allow us to explore what other options may be on the table with the Housing Executive and (Stormont) departments and housing associations.

"I also want to meet the Legion of Mary and I have asked them (the hostel's management team) to set that up.

"Whilst the hostel has a management board the owner of the building is the Legion of Mary."

Regina Coeli House hostel in west Belfast is to close in spring. Picture by Hugh Russell

Mr Maskey said the service the hostel provides was urgently needed.

"I know the amount of people this service has helped over many, many years," he said.

"The unfortunate reality is that women are still going to need a service like this."

He added: "There have to be options out there to allow a service like this to continue."

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker also met the hostel's management team yesterday.

On Monday, he told The Irish News: "Staff and residents need to be supported and a solution needs to be found to save this important hostel to ensure homeless women can access the support they need."

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