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'I was starting to feel worried, really big time worried' - Struggling to find a home as an older person in 2018 Dublin

With the help of Alone, 65-year-old Joe Kelly was given the keys to a new permanent home in Dublin today.

Joe Kelly
Joe Kelly
Image: Arthur Carron

“WE ALL KNOW there’s a problem going on. There’s this kind of homeless situation, we’re aware of it, but when you’re out there and you’re stuck at the coalface and you have to face it… it’s really, really so real.”

65-year-old Joe Kelly, who has struggled to secure a new tenancy after being served a notice of termination on his rental property last December, has today been given keys to his new permanent home in Dublin.

Kelly, a carpenter by trade, was living in a basement apartment in Ranelagh when he was served his notice.

He had rented the property for eight and a half years, and the termination notice meant he was due to move out at the start of August.

After months of uncertainty over where he would live next, he was told recently that he would be rehomed with the help of Alone, a charity that supports older people.

“I was not in a great position then, I was on Jobseekers’ Allowance and I had a little rent allowance that was coming in,” Kelly told TheJournal.ie at the launch of Alone’s new homes today.

I was starting to feel worried, really big time worried.

Kelly turned to Dublin City Council and outlined that he was being evicted. In January, he was offered the Housing Assistance Payment (Hap).

Hap and Homeless Hap are a form of rental benefit payment to assist lower-income households. Homeless Hap is available only to people who are registered as homeless.

At this point, Kelly then began looking for alternative accommodation in Dublin, through online property search websites. He said that he received “very little” response for viewings and that some properties were “well beyond” his financial reach.

Over the next few months, Kelly struggled to secure accommodation. He noted that some letting agents were reluctant to accept Hap tenancies.

Adding to this, Kelly said he experienced difficulties when it came to his age.

“I did find there was bias against my age: ‘Sorry, you don’t mind me asking how old you are?’

I did find there was a bias against it, definitely. They didn’t know how to cope, how to react to people my age.

A month before his lease was due to expire, Kelly turned to Dublin City Council and declared himself as homeless.

Kelly was referred to Alone. The charity had also been in contact with Kelly prior to this.

The charity has acquired 11 new units of housing for older people in Earls Court, Dublin 8, to house older people who are at risk of homelessness or who are homeless.

The purchase was made with the assistance of funding from the Department of Housing through Dublin City Council, combined with a loan finance advanced by the Housing Finance Agency.

As tenants of Alone, these older people will now have security of tenure. Alone staff will continue to provide support as the person’s needs change over time.

Kelly said his new permanent home has given him “a new lease of life”.

“It’s taken the clouds away. I can get up now and I can live and get on with whatever is left of my life to get on with,” he said.

“It was horrific out there, wondering if this is the end, ending up in a hostel or something like that.”

Kelly met and spoke with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy today, who visited the residents in their new homes.

Homeless figures

Today also marked the publication of the latest homelessness figures.

According to the Department of Housing, 9,872 people were in emergency accommodation during the week of 18-24 June, an increase of 26 people compared with the previous month.

The figure includes 6,048 adults and 3,824 children, with a rise of 26 adults and two fewer children accessing emergency accommodation compared with May.

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