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'I just wanted a bed, I was sleeping on my mam's sofa': Living with homelessness

TheJournal.ie spoke to a number of residents at new homeless accommodation in Dublin.

Image: Shutterstock/Stock-Asso

NEW SUPPORTED ACCOMMODATION for homeless families was opened officially in Dublin this week.

High Park in Drumcondra, Co Dublin is a large building in the grounds of a former Magdalene Laundry. The accommodation is run by Respond! Housing Association and was opened in January.

Families are given 24-hour wrap-around support with social workers helping them to source longer-term accommodation. These family centres are set to replace the use of hotels and B&Bs for housing homeless families, a practice which has become widespread in recent years.

TheJournal.ie spoke to a few of the people now living in High Park about their housing situation and their plans for the future.

*NOTE The names of everyone quoted here has been changed in order to protect their identities

Laura 

Laura moved into High Park on 23 February with her three-month-old son,

“I was in my mam’s but I was living on a sofa but it was too crowded.

There was eight of us in a three bedroom house.

Laura works full-time, but found it hard to find an affordable place to rent. In the end, she felt she couldn’t stay in her mother’s house any longer.

“I had to get out. It was too much, it was just too stressful.

“I work as well. So you’re going to work and then you’re coming home and you’re dealing with grief as well.

It was going to turn into a physical fight. Everyone getting angry in the house with everyone on top each other.
I just ended having a fight with my Ma and she threw me out so I went to [the homeless Central Placement Service on] Parkgate Street street and they assessed me here.

Laura said High Park was a lot more desirable than staying at a hotel and that the staff were very supporting in helping her find longer-term accommodation. However, she said she would not like to stay there too long.

“It’s standard but what you would expect. I just wanted a bed, I was sleeping on my mam’s sofa.

“I like it but just to get me somewhere better. Get me somewhere where I need to go.

“That’s what I want. I’m not sure HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) is the best way. It’s the landlord’s house and after a few years you might have to leave.

I think they just really need to build houses to house people like this who need it.

Sarah (31)

Sarah was one of the first people to move into High Park when the facility opened. She shares a room with her 13-year-old son.

She had been renting for a number of years, however as prices went up he found herself unable to afford it.

“So I moved back in with my mam and was living there for about two years. But me and her kept clashing. She has mental health problems as well so it just wasn’t good.

I was looking for place to rent for ages but I just couldn’t find anything.

Eventually it all came to a head and I had go down to Parkgate Hall and say I had nowhere to go. So they sent me here.

Sarah shares a room with her son. She says that they are both relatively happy in the accommodation, but her son finds it difficult as he is the oldest child at High Park.

NO FEE RESPOND 5 Children at the opening of the High Park facility in Drumcondra during the week. Source: Marc O'Sullivan

“He finds it hard enough because there’s no one else his age here. All the others are much younger.

But it’s alright here. The staff are very helpful and it’s completely different from a hotel.
I’d like to move, obviously but I’m not anxious staying here. All the other girls are lovely too.

Read: Simon Coveney: Hotels will no longer be used to house homeless families by July

Read: Over 198,000 empty homes in Ireland: UK officers turn them into housing – would that work here?

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