Family desperately seeking somewhere to find shelter
By Maurice Garvey
HOMELESS families living day to day in hotels, B&B’s and hostels, is a situation that has been called ‘apartheid Irish style’, by homeless advocate Fr Peter McVerry.
That is, if accommodation can be found on any particular night, as desperate families seek somewhere to find shelter in the midst of a crisis.
McVerry says homeless families are unable to access the same facilities as paying customers in hotels, which has led to a form of segregation, and he has called for radical action to make derelict homes available for local authorities.
Families like Louise Connors (40) and her two sons, have been on the housing list for eight years, and on the homeless list for 17 months.
For the last 17 months, Louise and her two sons Calvin (9) and Brandon (7), have traipsed from hotel to hostel, a night in Blanchardstown, two nights in Bray, often seeking temporary respite at a friend’s house when all else has failed.
“I feel like putting a rope around my neck, I never imagined it would go this far,” said Louise.
“Our Focus Ireland case worker was off for the weekend and Monday, so I couldn’t contact her for three days. Saturday was lashing rain all day. We were put out of the Camden Hotel at 11am, and it was a case of trying to find shelter.
“We stayed in McDonalds for as long as we could, trying to sort out something on the phone. Later that night we were told by Focus that there were 11 families looking for accommodation.”
Originally from Ballyfermot, Louise moved to Clondalkin, raising her kids, but when the landlord sold the property in late 2014, she found herself out on the street.
Louise continued: “We went on emergency accommodation, but I don’t think authorities are doing enough. The council sent us to Gardner Street in November, and said it would be six months before we could find anything, but nothing happened. I was advised to go on HAP, but as soon as a potential landlord hears that, they refuse.
“My kids are suffering as a result. There is a lot of drinking and violence in the hostels. I miss being able to feed my kids good food. One is acting out now in school, but even trying to get them to school in Bawnogue is difficult. The bus strike means I can’t afford a taxi to take them to school.”
Laura, a close friend of Louise’s from Lindasfarne, identified a number of vacant properties in the area.
“They could be put to use. Louise has tried her hardest, but after 17 months, she’s at the end of her tether,” said Laura.