Saturday 21 September 2019

'It's freezing' - family live in camper van as hotel shows them the door

Jodie with son Leon and daughter Dakota Mae outside the camper van
Jodie with son Leon and daughter Dakota Mae outside the camper van
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

A YOUNG family are living in a friend’s camper van as they face into long term-homelessness despite a full-time wage coming in.

Jodie Andrews (23) and her partner Nathan (24) said they are living in the van in Dun Laoghaire with children Leon (7) and Dakota Mae (2) after becoming homeless.

They said they have been unable to find anywhere to rent because of the worsening housing crisis.

The couple would rather live in the camper van for now than accept a place in emergency accommodation in the city centre as Nathan previously witnessed poor living conditions there.

Jodie with son Leon and daughter Dakota Mae in the camper van
Jodie with son Leon and daughter Dakota Mae in the camper van

“We were about to go to a  garda station for the night rather than stay in the emergency accommodation offered to us,” Jodie said.

“But it was freezing last night. We had duvets over us, but it was still very cold.

“I just can’t face taking my kids to stay in the emergency accommodation in the city centre.

“Someone we know was staying there and Nathan went in to see them.

“He said there were bloodstains on the bed, the pillowcase had live head lice on it and we heard claims people were smoking crack.

“I don’t want my kids in among that. Nathan works full-time as a valeter, but we can’t find anywhere to live.”

The couple, who are grateful for the use of the van, had recently been staying in a hotel 21km from their son’s school in Dun Laoghaire.

However, Jodie said they lost their room there after they went to stay with a relative over the Easter holidays.

She claimed hotel staff told the family they only needed to tell them they were staying away for the break, but under homeless service rules, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) staff had to be told.

“My daughter understands too much for her age, that something isn’t right, and my son is emotionally drained,” said Jodie. “I applied for a house on Choice Based Letting. I applied three months ago and all this time later it says ‘still in progress’ on the application. We’ve not heard anything. The house is still advertised up there.

“I was on to the homeless services and they told me because I limited the places where I’d stay, they won’t give me any further accommodation.”

Jodie knows her family would have a better chance if she could work.

“I feel if we could only get a stable home, then I would be able to get part-time work,” she said.

“I never went to college as I was 15 when I became pregnant.

“I went on a FAS course in childcare before that. I’d love to work but we need help to find a home.”

The full-time mum said her family have been on the Dun Laoghaire housing waiting list for five years.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown councillor Hugh Lewis said: “Here is yet another emergency situation that exposes the deepening crisis in housing, a crisis that is worsening by the week because of central Government policy.

“At the very least, Jodie and her children should be close to her family supports. I have appealed to the council to meet this most basic of demands.”

The council would not comment on the family’s situation.

However, a DRHE spokeswoman said: “Contingency emergency accommodation is available and has been offered to this family but they have not taken up the offer.

“The DRHE does not have any complaints about the facility of the nature you outline.”

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