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Housing Crisis

Cork eviction ban meeting told of woman, 78, given notice to quit after 63 years in family home

People facing eviction were present at the meeting, including a man who said he doesn’t know what to tell his six-year-old.

A PACKED PUBLIC meeting in Cork tonight heard that a 78-year-old woman in the city has been given a notice to quit the home her family has rented since she was fifteen years old. 

Local Councillor Ted Tynan raised the woman’s case, which has been ongoing for months, as an example of the plight that is facing renters if the eviction ban lifts. 

“She is being asked to either pay €2000 a month for a house she currently pays €650 for, or to leave,” he said. 

Another man at the meeting said that he has not been able to sleep “a single night” since he got served an eviction notice. 

“I am looking at a six year old child who I feel like I have failed, because the government has failed me. How am I going to say you can’t go home after school, when we don’t have a home to go to anymore, what do I say then?” He said. 

The eviction ban came into effect last autumn amid record breaking levels of homelessness in the country, which have continued to climb. 

It is due to expire on 31 March, marking the end of the six month “Winter emergency period”, and many renters are due to be served notices to quit. 

Sinn Fein has tabled a motion for the ban to be extended until January 2024, which will be debated next Tuesday.

A woman at the meeting about the eviction ban in Cork city tonight said that she has been served a notice to quit her property by 15 April, and that she doesn’t know where to go next, or whether she is legally safe to continue to stay in the property. 

Tynan, and other people present at the meeting, also spoke of the case of a pregnant woman in the city who is living in a property where the ceiling has caved in due to water and sewage damage from the apartment above. 

The room was told that the woman “cannot get help from the council without a notice to quit from her landlord, but that the landlord won’t evict her, because they are receiving €900 in Housing Assistance Payment money per month”. 

Tynan said that the woman is living in the property with her child, and is at a loss as to how to get out of the situation. 

“It is the most deplorable living conditions I have seen someone living in a rented apartment living in,” another man familiar with the woman’s case said. 

Penny Dinners founder Caitriona Twomey, who was a panel speaker at the event, said that she has known people who were experiencing homelessness who have taken their life due to the struggle they faced as a result. 

“They had to wait for too long. We know people who have waited for years and years to be properly housed, and the wait go to be too much for them,” Twomey said. 

She said that a woman and her daughter came to Penny Dinners earlier today looking for some dinner, and the woman was in tears when Twomey asked if they were okay. 

“She and her daughter are going to become to be evicted when the eviction ban lifts. They are not the only ones. We know a lot of families, working families, who are in this position,” Twomey said. 

She added that the solution to the homelessness crisis in Ireland is “straightforward, it’s housing,” she said. 

“The eviction ban lifting is going to cause mayhem in this country. How long can the government turn a blind eye. They need to pay attention to the people who are cold, hungry, and dying. At Penny Dinners it causes us pain to see the situations they are in, imagine the pain it is causing to them,” Twomey added. 

Frank O’Connor, who leads the #DerelictIreland campaign which aims to raise awareness of dereliction and vacancy levels in Ireland, told the meeting: “It’s true, Ireland is full, it is full of empty homes”. 

He said that there are many vacant homes in Cork city, and that the council-owned ones are distinguishable from the metal shuttering that the council puts in to deter vandalism. 

“There are families who live in hotels and bed and breakfasts and other temporary accommodation that are walking past these council-owned homes every day, imagine how that makes them feel,” he said. 

 Isobel Kavanagh from the Munster Technological University Student Union told the meeting that she and her peers are planning to move abroad when they graduate, because they are facing such a struggle to find housing while they are still in college. 

“We don’t need fancy student accommodation buildings that charge €250 per week in rent, and that is what we are being offered,” she said. 

“International students are coming here, not realising the situation, and having nowhere to live when they get here.

“We also have many students who are forced to rent from landlords who are not registered with the residential tenancies board, who can behave however they want. The students don’t say anything for fear they will be put out on the street,” she said. 

Socialist Party TD Mick Barry proposed a motion at the meeting, which called on the government to extend the eviction ban. The motion was overwhelmingly voted for. 

He also encouraged renters facing eviction not to vacate their properties, and suggested overholding as an option, telling renters, including one woman in the room who is imminently facing eviction, that it is not an illegal action, and that it can buy people in desperate situations more time. 

“The decision to lift the eviction ban is one the vulture funds will cheer on, and one that will strike fear into the hearts of thousands of families in this country,” he said. 

Barry also said that the government needs to take rapid emergency style action to house people in homelessness in Ireland, similar to the action it has rightly taken to housing refugees from Ukraine. 

 He also urged the need for the government to turn away from relying on private, for profit developers to supply a solution to the housing crisis. 

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