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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Mother of autistic boy fears they may sleep in car tonight

Anita McSorley

Published 29/05/2014 | 15:11

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The mother of a severally autistic boy (10) fears they could be sleeping in her car tonight after losing their home.

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Tracey Gilligan spoke about her situation, which is amplified by her 10-year-old son’s condition, on Newstalk today.

The family lived in rented accommodation for five years but when her landlady was forced to sell the house a few months ago, Tracey wasn’t able to afford the rent and found herself homeless.

“I was there for five years. I have no qualms with my landlady at all.

“She was a brilliant landlord but she had to sell up and we had to leave the house. I was told to get out on March 31st, and she gave me an extra month because she knew I couldn’t find accommodation at the time.”

Tracey then declared herself homeless.

“At the minute I’m living in different hotels every night with my son. I don’t know where I’m going to be tonight. Autism Ireland paid for a hostel last night and the night before the hostel let me stay for free out of the goodness of their hearts.

“I’m actually scared of what will happen. Tonight I fear we might be sleeping in my car.

“There’s just nothing out there for me. There’s no rented accommodation. The support is there, but the rented accommodation isn’t,” she told Jonathan Healy.

She also spoke about the difficulties her ten-year-old son faces on a day-to-day basis.

“He’s severally autistic. He has also developed mental problems. He had to go to school every day and get one to one lessons. A lot of work has to be done with him. He has very little speech and no social skills. There’s a lot of problems there.

“Everything has to be shown to him. He doesn’t tell me when he’s hungry. Sometimes he doesn’t know when to go to the toilet. It’s very challenging.”

Tracey says that the situation is having a serious effect on her son.

“He is looking around a lot and he doesn’t know where he is. He’s clinging on to me at night. It’s so hard for him at the minute. I feel so sorry for him because he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

She and her son are not the only ones in this situation. She says there is a community of homeless people who do their best to help each other out.

“I’m not the only one that’s homeless. There are a lot of us and we are all connected. Everyone’s getting in touch with everybody trying to help each other out during these hard times.”

Also speaking on the show was Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader. She called the situation “outrageous”.

“We’re facing a real crisis. There are thousands of families who find themselves in B&B’s and hostels for long periods of times.

“If the Government isn’t prepared to invest into housing and if the local authorities aren’t prepared to undertake big projects of developments and fill those empty apartments, then we’re going to have a problem because the issue in the State is an issue of supply,” she said.

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