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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 22 April, 2019
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'We work, we pay tax': 'Hidden homeless' family protest against sale of Nama site

The site already has planning permission for more than 450 apartments.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

KELLY PRIESTLEY, GLEN Kilty and their two-year-old son Alan were made homeless this year when they had to leave the apartment they had rented in Sandyford for four years.

They had been given three months’ notice, but Priestley said they “failed miserably” to find alternative accommodation they could afford on their salaries – she is a home care assistant and her partner works in motor crash repairs.

“We looked for three months solid, sent out emails everywhere, every property, apartment, we even looked down the country to try and find new accommodation.”

The 29-year-old said the majority of their emails went unanswered and the few viewings they were able to go to were attended by a large number of other people who she said could offer more money.

They lived in a hotel in Bray for 11 weeks initially and they are currently in their second ‘family hub’ in Monkstown.

‘Economic madness’

The couple spoke to TheJournal.ie outside the Department of Finance yesterday, where a small group of housing activists handed in a petition signed by 3,500 people to stop the sale of a site in Sandyford in south Dublin. 

dav Eileen Kinch, Glen Kiley, Kelly Priestly, their son Alan (aged 2) and Brian Leeson of Dundrum Housing Action outside the Department of Finance with the more than 3,500 names from the petition. Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

The site, which is located beside Beacon South Quarter, is owned by a Nama debtor and the receiver is now selling the site. It already has planning permission for 459 apartments. 

Although Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has the option of bidding for the site, it is likely to be sold to a private company or landlord. Brian Leeson of Dundrum Housing Action, the group that started the petition, said it would be “an act of economic madness and social vandalism” to sell off the site at the height of a housing crisis.

The site is owned by the state and shovel ready for building. There is nothing to stop it being used to provide 460 low and middle income families with secure, affordable homes.

‘Maximise the amount recovered’

Responding to a query from TheJournal.ie, a Nama spokesperson said:

“This site is not owned by Nama. It is owned by a Nama debtor.

“Its sale is being carried out by a receiver in accordance with the receiver’s fiduciary requirements to the site owner and the requirements of the Nama Act to maximise the amount recovered for the taxpayer.

The receiver’s obligation is to maximise the amount recovered on behalf of the debtor and therefore he cannot sell it at less than market value.

“It is open to any party, including the local authority, to bid for the site.”

The petition handed into the department calls on Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to “do the right thing” and stop the sale of this land so it can be used to build affordable homes for families like Kelly, Glen and Alan, who are on the local council’s social housing list. 

“They’re selling off the little bit of land we have left, that there’s already permission for houses to go up, that could nearly clear one side of the [housing] list, but they’d rather sell it for a quick few bob,” Priestley commented. 

Meanwhile, she said families like her’s are being taken out of the homeless figures as they are moved into hubs “just to be a statistic for the minister”.

“We are basically just a number”. 

‘Stress and anxiety’

The couple said the moving around has had an impact on two-year-old Alan’s health. 

“Since we got taken out of self-accommodation in the hotel in Bray on the Tuesday he was sick, couldn’t even keep water down for probably four days,” the toddler’s father said.

Their doctor told them this was probably “due to stress and anxiety” caused by their accommodation situation. 

“He wakes up three or four times a night crying because he doesn’t know where he is because we’ve moved around so much,” Priestley said. 

They explained that their parents’ homes are already overcrowded with their siblings and their children, who Kilty described as “the hidden homeless”. 

“They can’t find anywhere,” he said. “It’s from the bottom up. It’s not just people on the streets anymore, the old perception of homeless people. This is the new perception, people wearing suits and workwear, we’re the new generation.”

“The working families, paying tax, bursting everything every day,” his partner added. 

She said they have been left in an impossible situation:

“We don’t earn enough to buy, to be approved for a mortgage and the rents are gone up that high that we can’t rent either so where do we go? What do we do? We’re stuck. And then the stress of trying to get up to go to work everyday and trying to rear your child.”

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