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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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Blind woman's eight year wait for a suitable home in Cork

Lisa O’Sullivan said the stress of the eight-year wait led to her eyesight and her 17 health conditions deteriorating further.

It took Lisa O'Sullivan eight years to find a house that suited her needs in Cork.
It took Lisa O'Sullivan eight years to find a house that suited her needs in Cork.
Image: Room Wanted via RTÉ

A BLIND WOMAN waited almost eight years on Cork Council housing lists before a housing association eventually found her a suitable home.

Lisa O’Sullivan, who has 17 different health conditions including diabetes, osteoporosis, and a rare liver condition, said, “I felt like I was in limbo for so long that I had almost given up on a house. I was stressed out and that didn’t help my conditions”.

She added that she had 16 per cent eyesight when she began the search for a home eight years ago but that deteriorated by a further eight per cent because of the “stress” of waiting so long.

O’Sullivan isn’t alone. Almost 100,000 households are currently waiting for a home in Ireland as demand for local authority housing increased dramatically, up 75 per cent since 2008.

Fall risk

Her search for accommodation all began when she was living in rented accommodation in Cork city that had stairs. When she realised her health, eyesight and mobility were deteriorating she decided to apply for social housing.

O’Sullivan was offered other accommodation in Cork city centre, but again it had stairs and no lift, so it wasn’t suitable as her osteoporosis meant she was a fall risk.

“That really annoyed me,” she said. “I submitted all of this information to the council and they came back with a house with a stairs. I even had a note from doctors stating that I cannot climb stairs… It just meant that I had to wait even longer.”

The only accommodation she could find was a house in Dunmanway, west Cork, an area where she felt “lonely”, “had no friends” and was 50 kilometres away from her terminally ill mother who lived in Dripsey.

“I needed to be near to my mother when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer two years ago,” she explained. “It was hard living so far away from her because all I had was my mum and my brother. She died on 1 March this year, so now I just have my brother.”

Dunmanway was also too far from her hospital appointments and the National Council for the Blind of Ireland where O’Sullivan visits weekly.

After six months in Dunmanway, a frustrated O’Sullivan was told about Clúid, a housing association. After two interviews with them, she was offered a home in an apartment block in Ballincollig.

Lisa O’Sullivan in her new home in Ballincollig, Cork. (Image: RTÉ/ Room Wanted)

It means she is near her friends, and nearer the city so she can access her hospital appointments and the NCIB, where she visits for counselling sessions, eye clinics, and to socialise with others.

“This is my home now and I’m thrilled,” she told TheJournal.ie.

“What I’m trying to do now is help others and pay it forward. I want to make more people aware of Clúid, Respond and other housing associations out there that can help people like me or people with low-incomes.”

She describes the wait for a house as a “nightmare” and says she doesn’t want others to have go through the same thing.

Clúid is one of the largest housing associations in Ireland, delivering 3,664 homes to low income families, single people, older people, people with a disability and Traveller families all over Ireland.

Read: Two thousand new homes to help cut social housing wait>

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About the author:

Amy Croffey

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