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"It's just cruel" - 80-year-old man with one leg has been living on daughter's couch for last year

George Chalkley is sharing a house with seven others, despite being a “high priority” for Dublin City Council’s housing section.

DISCUSSION AROUND IRELAND’S homelessness and housing crises is at fever pitch at present, and a case has emerged today that seems to suggest the problems in the sector are coming to a head.

George Chalkley, a former welder, is 80 years old. He lost his right leg last December and is currently living on his daughter Margaret’s couch.

The council house in question in Ballymun is currently being shared by seven people, including a baby.

Margaret has applied to Dublin City Council (DCC) for the installation of a small extension at the back of her house where she hopes to install a single bed for her father.

31/8/2015. Mr. George Chalkley, aged 80yrs in his George in the sitting room of the house in Ballymun Source: Leon Farrell

But the minimum she and her father can expect to wait for the extension is two years due to a lack of funding according to DCC, despite George being a level one medical priority.

“His other leg will go eventually as well, we’re trying to keep it as long as we can but I can’t do that with him living on my couch,” Margaret told Joe Duffy’s Liveline on RTE radio yesterday afternoon.

I just think it’s cruel to leave him like that.

George had two toes removed last year, but when the surgery was deemed a failure he had his entire right leg amputated.

“I took him in because the hospital wanted to put him into a nursing home, and he’s too full of life and too much of a character for that, so I took him in,” said Margaret.

31/8/2015. Mr. George Chalkley, aged 80yrs in his George Chalkley Source: Rollingnews.ie

All we want is a small extension, a bed and a chest of drawers, but they keep telling me we’ll be waiting two years because they’ve no funding.
He’s been in that chair seven months and he only had his first shower 3 weeks ago, and I had to get onto a TD to make that happen. DCC have approved us yet no-one has ever come out to assess the situation.
There’s no way he can sleep in my sitting room for two years, that’s for sure.

A letter received by Margaret from DCC asserts that while George’s case is a “high (level 1) priority”, the current waiting list is approximately two years “due to the volume of approved cases on the waiting list”.

“The waiting time may increase if there is any decline in funding for the scheme,” the letter continues.

31/8/2015. Mr. George Chalkley, aged 80yrs in his The letter from Dublin City Council to George's daughter Margaret Source: Rollingnews.ie

No indication can be given when the works may commence until all the other cases have been dealt with.

Meanwhile, the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) has today published its pre-budget submission for 2016 with a keen emphasis placed on finding a solution to the housing crisis.

The submission puts distinct emphasis on long-term solutions as opposed to short term wins.

Suggested measures include:

  • Allocating €90 million towards expanding the supply of social housing
  • Reactivating the local authority low-cost sites scheme – essentially allowing access to land banks for housing bodies
  • Emphasis placed on developing the private finance funding model of social housing

“In order to address the acute housing issues we currently face in Ireland, we must see an increase in housing supply and an acceptance that social housing requires adequate funding on an ongoing basis,” said Donal McManus, CEO of the ICSH.

There are currently almost 90,000 households on waiting lists for social housing.  In addition, there are 531 families and 3,095 individual adults in emergency accommodation. 
Clearly, the housing sector in Ireland is facing major challenges, and Budget 2016 presents a real opportunity for Government to address these in a sustainable, strategic and long-term way.

Read: Garda Commissioner called to meeting with Taoiseach to discuss IRA

Read: The man who raped and killed Jill Meagher is fighting to have his jail time cut

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