Renters are ‘classified as a statistic, not a human being’ – The Irish Times

Lisa Brady and her sons, ages 11, 7 and 4, will be homeless in just over three weeks. The flat she has rented in Cherry Orchard, Dublin for more than nine years is needed by her landlord for his family.

In April last year, she was given the statutory notice period of 224 days. The family was supposed to have moved out in December, but the moratorium on evictions saved them from homelessness over Christmas.

She is eligible to pay Housing Assistance (HAP), can pay up to €1,950 a month for a two or three bedroom house and has been responding to rental ads “constantly” for the past 10 months.

“I email and email, request two and three beds and hear nothing back. An apartment directly above me has been rented since Friday. I emailed twice over the weekend and then I saw the agent there yesterday and went and spoke to him. He said to me, ‘Yeah, look, the landlord is in talks with a landlord from another apartment because his family’s ceiling collapsed.’ So you even apply for places, but they have other people who are willing to take them.”

She has been following speculation about the ban on evictions for the past few weeks and “somehow knew that it would not be extended”. Nevertheless, she is “in shock”.

“I actually can’t believe it. I am here almost 10 years. I literally brought my kids home from the hospital here. This is the only home they’ve ever had. I try to prepare them, especially my eldest. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m talking to my friends and they’re listening. The other day my eldest came up to me and said, ‘Mom, are we going to get a home? Will we find a place to stay?’ I said, “Yeah, don’t worry. We will have a new home’. Of course I can’t tell him how bad the situation is. It’s terrible.”

When asked who she blames for the crisis she is facing, she says: “This government. I don’t blame the landlords. I understand landlords need their property back but it is so wrong that there is no plan, no care for the families and children who are left homeless.

“We are classified as a statistic. We are not categorized as people living through this. The people making these decisions don’t have to deal with this reality. They go home to their homes, nice and safe, and they don’t have that worry. They don’t really understand what it’s like to go through this. It makes me so mad at her.”

There were 24 two-bed and three three-bed properties across Dublin City and County available on the site on Tuesday, available within the €1,950 a month Lisa can pay.

However, she said: “I was on a viewing for a house in Clondalkin but they had over 1,000 inquiries for it. It’s a losing battle. My family is tense themselves. They can’t accommodate us, so that’s not a solution for me.”

Helen, a cleaning lady from Cork, plans to live in her car after being evicted from her home next month. In her view, without the protection of the ban on evictions, she has no other choice.

The woman, in her early 60s, received a notice of termination from her landlady, who is selling because she claims she can’t afford the estimated €30,000 needed to refurbish the two-bedroom apartment, which has damp and mold in the bedrooms make it uninhabitable for Helen (who didn’t want to give her full name).

She sleeps in the living room where there is heat from the stove, dryer or kettle.

Her rent is around 800 euros a month, of which she pays 550 euros herself, the rest being covered by the HAP, the government’s social housing subsidy for people who have long-term housing needs. Helen has lived in her apartment for 14 years.

The separated mother of four and grandmother lives alone. She was looking for alternative accommodation, but in times of housing shortages and rising rents, she cannot afford the €1,300 to €1,400 monthly rent for one-bedroom apartments that are currently being advertised in the city.

“It’s a shame. what will people do I’m not the only one who lives in a car. I start work in the morning from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. and see a lot of people sleeping in the car on the way to work,” she said.

“That can happen to anybody. You say you have enough money to rent if you work, but I don’t. I know a few people where I work and there are one or two of them who are homeless. I don’t know where they live or where they stay.”

Helen has breathing problems – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma – which she says are due to the damp and mold at home.

She’s been through “a bad marriage” and doesn’t want to bother her children when looking for housing because they have their own difficulties, she said.

After her eviction, she plans to park in an industrial area in front of the building she’s cleaning, but she’s not yet sure what to expect when her Ford Focus becomes her new home.

“I won’t know until I get in there. I don’t want to go to my family. When they find out I’m going to be in a car, I’m sure they’ll say, ‘Come with me.’ But I don’t really want that,” she said. “I want to keep my own independence.” Renters are ‘classified as a statistic, not a human being’ – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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