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Monday 5 December 2016

'Hope Erica gets a home' - Viewers react after nine-year-old pours her heart out in RTE's 'My Homeless Family'

Published 19/01/2016 | 11:06

Photo: RTE
Photo: RTE
Photo: RTE
Erica Fleming who is homeless and living in a hotel Photo: Mark Condren

An outpouring of support has been felt on social media this morning after last night's RTE documentary "My Homeless Family" showed the realities homeless families living in a hotel.

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Viewers watched little Emily (9) break down in tears as she told her mother Erica how desperately wanted a home.

“I just want a house," she said as she wiped away her tears.

She said people can't save up money because it's all spent on food, shopping and clothes.

Viewers took to social media to air their support for the homeless families on last night's programme.

One woman said "Shocking that this is happening in modern day Ireland. Hope Erica gets a home."

Erica spoke of the "mountain of fears" involved in staying in temporary accommodation.

"The hotel only has to take you for a week at a time. This week you could be on the northside, next week you could be on the southside," she said.

"I have always worked, I continue to work but due to the difference between rent allowance and the actual rent, I couldn't make up the difference, and therefore I ended up being where I am today.

"I just want affordable rent. I can't hand out rent of €900, I'm never going to be able to afford that. Everybody seems to think that homeless people are people that are just on the streets or have a drug problem or an alcohol problem and that's not the way it is any more."

Focus Ireland's Director of Advocacy Mike Allen described the footage of last night's documentary as "shocking".

He told RTE's Morning Ireland that NAMA is to build 10,000 homes over the next number of years, only 10pc of which will be social housing.

He said if half of these homes were made available to homeless families it would end the problem.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said tackling the crisis of homelessness in Ireland should be a "social imperative" of the next government.

He told RTE this morning that it was not acceptable that the emergency accommodation being provided for homeless people was "not fit for purpose".

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive Cathal Morgan said housing supply remains the main problem in the Dublin area.

"You couldn't but be touched watching the programme last night," he said on RTE Radio One.

"The use of commercial hotels is not sustainable, but unfortunately the alternative is the streets.

"A common misconception people have is that if someone becomes homeless nothing changes for them but that's not the case, 1056 homeless families in the greater Dublin area got tenancies in 2015.

"We know it's tough on people but we are asking them to hang in there as we now have an extra 30 staff working to assist you.

"We need people to look at other alternatives such as leasing, rental schemes or modular housing.

"If people are prepared to look at alternative options we will help them.

"We can offer pre-clearance in relation to rent allowance and help in sourcing accommodation.

"We need communities to get behind modular housing, he told RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland.

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