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'We have a toilet, a bed, and a desk. That's where we live'

Erica Fleming lives in a hotel room with her nine-year-old daughter.


Source: RTÉ Radio 1/SoundCloud

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen to the interview.

THE EXPERIENCE OF homeless families living in emergency accommodation will be explored this evening in a new RTÉ Prime Time Investigations programme.

Last month as many as 1500 children from 700 families were living in accommodation like this, mainly hotels or B&Bs, across the country.

This represents a doubling compared to figures last year.

The Prime Time programme, My Homeless Family, will detail the experience of these families, ranging from their living conditions to the psychological effect it has.

One of the participants, 30-year-old Erica Fleming, shared her experience with The Ryan Turbridy Show earlier.

Source: RTÉ - IRELAND’S NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE MEDIA/YouTube

Another family, Sandra and Brendan Hanley-Hand and their children, who feature in the programme.

She has been living in a hotel room with her nine-year-old daughter Emily for the past seven months.

Erica is still working 29 hours a week with a company she has been an employee of for five years.

“We’re in one room, and it’s a medium-sized room,” she said. “So we just have a toilet and a double bed and a desk. That’s where we live.”

Erica was renting privately but was unable to afford rent, explaining that because of the number of hours she works she isn’t eligible for enough rent supplement to make up the difference.

She said it is “embarrassing” to be seen by other families staying in the hotel.

“People know that you’re homeless,” she explained,” There’s no way they couldn’t know.”

You’re leaving in the morning times and [Emily] has her uniform on, or you’re carrying in your bag of washing. They know we’re living here.

Erica is eager to get out of the hotel as soon as possible, saying her daughter gives her the courage to keep going:

There’s only so long you can keep this face on for

“On the hard days you’re feeling upset, and you might be starting to lose hope a little bit, [Emily] can read it off you. She’ll say ‘Give us a snuggle’ or she’ll say something funny.”

I love her so much, she really is my back bone.

RTÉ Investigates: My Homeless Family airs tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.

Read: Bloodstained mattresses and rat infestation: just some of the complaints from homeless families to the council >

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Nicky Ryan

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