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 Philomena Deans and her daughter Layla (4)
Philomena Deans and her daughter Layla (4)
Image: Laura Hutton via Photocall Ireland

'Mam I'm not going to school today, what if the kids ask me where I live'

Evicted mothers describe the emergency accommodation they’re forced to live in due to the housing crises.
May 19th 2014, 8:30 PM 27,928 166

FIVE MOTHERS WHO were evicted over rent increases came out together today demanding action on the housing shortage.

Philomena Deans is a mother of two from Dublin 13.

She’s currently living in emergency accommodation in the city centre.

She explained how her nine-year-old son worries about being judged for living there.

He said to her, “Mam I’m not going to school today, what if the kids ask me where I live.”

Deans described the conditions at the emergency accommodation as damp and filthy saying that “the children are in and out of Temple Street with chest conditions”.

She also said the children had hair lice, rashes, midget bites and sores on their mouths due to the conditions of the accommodation.

A 7-month-old child had to go back to a hotel as the accommodation just wasn’t suitable for a baby.

Taboo

Margaret Stapleton Margaret Stapleton and Cllr Ruth Coppinger Source: Laura Hutton via Photocall Ireland

Margaret Stapleton from Carpenterstown challenged politicians to live in her shoes for a week.

She also described how she wants to get out of this ‘welfare web’, saying:

I want a home for my kids so they can work when they’re older and be good law abiding people.

The women said that it’s very difficult for people to deal with the taboo around homelessness.

Tamara Kearns said it’s degrading for people to find themselves in this situation and it’s through no fault of their own.

Another mother Gwen Connell said unless social housing is built this problem is going to get worse.

She had to separate from her family when she became homeless some months ago. She said:

Nobody should be allowed be evicted after a rent increase if they have nowhere to go.

The group are appealing to people affected to get involved with their housing action group. “We have set up a Facebook page so families can make contact.”

Housing

During the 1970s, the average build of social housing annually was between 6,000 to 10,000.

Last year, it was less than 300 and that’s with an increased population.

Tamara Tamara Kearns and her son Paul Source: Laura Hutton via Photocall Ireland

Tamara Kearns added, “This isn’t just about getting homeless people off the streets and under a roof.

Emergency accommodation is not suitable for families. They have to build actual houses, both social and affordable.

Gwen Connell said, “The Housing Minister only talked about raising the rent allowance caps on a case-by-case basis. Other European countries have rent controls but this government leaves landlords with all the power.”

Cllr Ruth Coppinger, who is assisting the families, added:

“What exactly did the establishment think was going to happen ? They allowed housing be controlled by the private market for profit and forced councils to put tenants in private accommodation at great cost to the taxpayer, rather than building homes.

A public meeting will be held tomorrow night in Mountview Community Centre, Dublin 15.

Read: “End rent allowance discrimination”: Families to protest over homelessness in Dublin>

Read: Peter McVerry Trust says there’s been an increase in the number of homeless families>

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Cliodhna Russell

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