Monday 24 November 2014

Housing crisis: Homeless mum-of-three cries on Ryan Tubridy

Anita McSorley

Published 20/05/2014 | 12:00

A HOMELESS mum-of-three broke down in tears as she told 2FM’s Ryan Tubridy that her local authority put her and her young family into a city centre hostel.

Maggie Stapleton (30) confronted Taoiseach Enda Kenny about her situation when he was out canvassing in Dublin recently.

Maggie and her three children were living in rented accommodation until their landlord decided to sell the property.

She couldn’t find another property that would accept her rent allowance.

After going to her local authority for help, they informed her she had to become homeless before they could step in.

“I was renting up in the Dublin 15 area and I couldn’t afford the rent, it was crippling me being on my own with three kids.

“Then my landlord decided to sell the house, so the stress and the anxiety of the whole thing made me very sick - my hair was starting to fall out. I had to leave the house, there’s nothing I could do. I couldn’t find anywhere that would accept rent allowance and it’s so expensive. It’s just not possible,” Maggie told Ryan.

After going to her local authority for advice, she was told she must be declared homeless before they could help.

 “I went down to my local authority to ask for help and they said the day you become homeless you need to come down to us. They expect you to come down to the local authorities with your whole life in tow with bags, furniture etc., it’s just madness.

“A lot of things need to be changed in regards to how they want people to present themselves on the day they become homeless. Even if they gave people a couple of days, say okay look, we’re putting you out of your house on the 24th of March, come down a few days before that and we can see if there’s anything available but there’s nothing like that.”

Eventually she was put in a hotel with her three children, aged six, four and 10 months.

“They put me up in a hotel in Blanchardstown and they had me there for a week and two days. They rang me up on the Thursday saying I had to leave the hotel. They told me I was going down to the North Circular Road. I had an absolute meltdown on the phone, roaring and crying, because I had a feeling the place they were putting me in was the way it is now.

“I don’t drive and I had to arrange lifts to leave the hotel. I had three large suitcases, clothes, everything, and had to take it all out of the hotel with three kids and go down to this place.

“When I first walked in, the building was empty because it only opened over a month ago. The main building itself was like a derelict building. The whole place was empty. It’s like a horror story.”

Maggie was put into a room with her three children. There is a communal kitchen and wash rooms.

“My room has two single beds but before that I was sleeping on camper beds for three weeks.

“You have to share all the washing facilities. In the kitchen, say if you wanted to leave yogurts in the fridge for the kids, you can’t because everything goes missing. I have to travel up to my mum’s or sisters for dinners and lunch because there’s no point in leaving anything here.”

She is worried about her kids, especially the effect all this is having on her eldest.

 “My eldest girl goes to school in Dublin 15 and I would have to get my mum or sister to take turns taking her because it’s too much trying to get her up at 6.30 and she’s going without her breakfast.

“She’s really being affected by this. When I had my own place, they would be in bed every night between half 7 and 8 without fail so obviously becoming homeless has affected their sleeping patterns.”

Maggie approached Enda Kenny directly one day when she saw him out canvassing.

“He was half way down the road. It was like something out of a film, it was so hilarious to see this person running down the road with a baby in her arms after him.

“I didn’t even call him Taoiseach, I called him Enda I was that gone. I needed to talk to him and tell him how it is for me and other young mothers out there. I asked him to help us and what was going on with these so called houses they said they would put 50 million into. He told me I’m looking at 18 months down here.”

An emotional Maggie said she wishes she wasn’t in this position.

“Unfortunately I’m in this position and I don’t want to be, but that’s the reality of it. I don’t want to be like this for the rest of my life. I want some sort of future for my children and I want to get back to work. I don’t want to be seen as a loser who’s depending on the state.

“I don’t know how I’m even standing here. It’s so overwhelming,” She admitted.

The 30-year-old says see social houses as a stepping stone for her and her future.

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