A TEENAGER LIVING in emergency accommodation has urged government ministers to resolve the homeless crisis or give their jobs “to someone who actually cares”.
18 year-old ‘Amanda’ (not her real name) has been living in a hotel for two years after her family became homeless following the breakup of her parents’ marriage.
She is one of more than 9,500 people who were living in emergency accommodation during the month of August.
Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio, she revealed how she has been bullied, struggled with her mental health, and forced to repeat fifth year in school as a result of her situation.
“I feel like I’ve been [robbed] of most of my life,” she said.
“These are the years that I’m supposed to be focusing on getting a decent education, making friends, and going out and living my life.”
Amanda says that despite bullies claiming she lives the “high life”, the reality is far from the truth
She spoke tearfully about how she can’t do “normal things” like open a bank account or talk to her friends about her life at home.
She also revealed that she has only told one teacher in her new school about how she lives, because she is embarrassed about her situation and worries that she will be judged.
“You never know with people,” she said.
“Some could say it’s fine but others could say: ‘How are you homeless, is your mum scheming the country? Are you another beggar? Are you this, are you that?’
“You’re just really scared.”
She describes the hotel where she has been living for two years as “rotten” and “mouldy”.
“It’s degrading for everyone having to wake up and look at the dirt around you, the mould in between walls and behind curtains and everything else. It’s horrible.”
However, her family has no other option after being forced to leave their home.
Amanda’s mother ‘Teresa’, who gave up work when her children were born, was unable to keep up mortgage repayments when her marriage broke down, after she couldn’t find a job because her skills were considered out of date.
Although she dreams of becoming a councillor and teacher – inspired by her current situation to help others overcome their challenges – Amanda worries that being homeless will prevent her from going to college.
She believes she would struggle to study for her Leaving Certificate while living in a hotel, particularly because of the impact upon her mental health.
“It’s a struggle every day, getting up and even just taking the blankets off yourself in the morning. It’s horrible.”
Although her family is high up on Dublin City Council’s housing waiting list, they have moved up just one place in the last year.
Amanda hit out the Fine Gael government for its response to the housing crisis, name-checking Leo Varadkar and Eoghan Murphy, whom she accused of inaction.
“It’s their job to care and if they don’t they shouldn’t have the job: give it to someone who actually cares.”
However, despite being embarrassed by her situation, she spoke to Morning Ireland to raise awareness of the issues that people in her position face.
“People need to know that it is deadly to live like this. You feel like you have no life left, living in here with no help, no sense of security.
“You just think ‘what’s the point?’ You really do.”
Speaking on the same programme afterwards, Táiniste and former Minister for Housing Simon Coveney expressed sympathy for Amanda and those living in her situation.
“I accept that the state is currently failing Amanda,” he said.
“Between July and August 890 families taken out of hotels and are now in their own homes. That is not acceptable in Ireland today and we’re going to change it.”