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Friday 23 June 2017

'I had a fairly comfortable life once' - Heavily pregnant homeless woman breaks down over fears her child will be taken

Increasingly more pregnant women are coming to the attention of homelessness services (Stock Image)
Increasingly more pregnant women are coming to the attention of homelessness services (Stock Image)

David Kearns

A heavily pregnant woman left homeless after a bank repossessed her home broke down in tears as she described how she was forced to wander the streets because “there is nowhere” for her to go.

Claiming that convicted criminals were treated better by the State, ‘Christina’, who is six and a half months pregnant, said she felt abandoned by the Government because no resources were available to help her find somewhere to live.

“I have to walk the streets every day while heavily pregnant because they can’t give me somewhere in a supported accommodation scheme,” a tearful Christina told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

“There are people who come out of prison, and I’ve no criminal record, which are given supported accommodation… where they can sit in all day long and do whatever they like. And I can’t.

Struggling at time to keep going, the mother-of-one, whose eight-year-old daughter is being cared for by someone else, continued: “I’m not going to be a layabout and sit around doing nothing all day … I’ve gotten to a stage where I’m actually frozen.

“I’m speechless because I know nobody is going to help because I’ve been to every organisation … there are no resources available.

“Lately it’s really taken its toll on me. I suffer very, very badly with varicose veins, I was supposed to have them operated on, I’m supposed to be resting my legs.

“My bladder is really weak. I get days where I’m very, very week and I need to sit down for a few hours.”

Christina said her best fear now was that her baby will also be taken into care if she can not find accommodation because children are not allowed to stay in the hostel where she currently sleeps.

She said her ultimate goal is to find accommodation so she can keep her baby and be reunited with her daughter.

In the interview with Valerie Cox, the despite mother said she once enjoyed a “fairly comfortable life” before the lost of her job and the breakdown of her marriage.

 “I had my own home, I was a homeowner and I was quite happy. I had a job and a decent income. I was able to pay my mortgage when I was working, but unfortunately I lost my job in 2012.

“But unfortunately when I lost my job things really, really took a turn for the worse.”

Christina’s 11-year marriage broke up soon after she was made redundant, after which the bank repossessed her house.

“I couldn’t find anywhere to rent privately and still can’t,” she said.

“I’ve been two years looking… landlords wouldn’t accept rent supplement and all properties are way over the limits.

“I had no where to go…”

The heavily pregnant Christina told the RTÉ One radio show that she currently has a bed in the Regina Coeli Hostel but cannot be there from 12-7:30pm.

As a result she walks the streets of Dublin city for hours every day.

“Everyone is in bed by 10pm… the lights are shut off, the kitchen is closed, and the television is turned off.

“I’m out of the hostel from midday… basically roaming the streets.

“I go out window shopping, I go to libraries … I’ve absolutely nowhere to go … I can’t be just annoying people or knocking on people’s doors,” she added,

Christina’s social worker Deirdre Delaney said her case was becoming increasingly common, and that homeless services where “seeing many qualified women coming through”.

“Women who are pregnant and homeless are not entitled to hotel accommodation, you only become entitled to hotel accommodation as a family,” Ms Delaney said.

“Christina is believe it or not … lucky.

“For many pregnant women they’re in a one-night only hostel , which means that they have a different room every night if they’re lucky and they have to leave early every morning and walk the streets," she added.

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