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Friday 20 April 2018

'Give us our home please' - Girl (17) worries people will think she's 'scum' for being homeless

A heartbreaking radio story featuring a mum and her three kids has moved the nation this morning

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A homeless family have moved the nation this morning with their story which was broadcast on national radio.

RTE reporter Emma O'Kelly spoke with the family, who did not wish to be named, for Morning Ireland.

The family - a mum and her four children aged 12-19 - have been homeless since last August.

The mum, Theresa*, is studying for a degree in Blanchardstown IT, while her oldest daughter, Jenny, is studying a degree in Marine Biology in Galway.

The younger children Amanda (17) and Matthew (12) are in secondary school and primary school respectively.

After a marriage breakdown Theresa couldn't keep up with her mortgage repayments and their family home of 20 years was reposessed.

She was unable to find accommodation and Theresa moved the family back to Dublin where she is originally from. They spent some time staying with friends and families but this was untenable in the long term.

Last August they were declared homeless and have been living in one room in a hotel ever since.

The family spoke about their struggles, with Amanda in particular expressing the strain she is under in school.

"Definitely the past year it's been a very huge eye-opener. It's been a huge culture shock and a huge change to how it was for us," she said.

"It's hard to fit in and to find someone that will accept you and your troubles and if you get to the stage where you can open up about this situation and the homelessness, it's still a sense of 'will they still be your friend or will they find you scum?'

"It's hard to pick the good people from the bad and then finding it hard to come out to people you've never met before.

"It took me five or ten minutes there earlier on to say that I was homeless to my deputy principal... I just couldn't say it. I could barely say to her when I did say it.

"It's very hard," she added.

Amanda wants her family to get a home and get their space back.

"If it was just out privacy back it would be ten times better than what we have now...there's no peaceful time," she said.

When asked what she would say to a Government minister given the chance she said:

"Give us our home please, we need it... we need it as soon as possible."

Mum Theresa said she believes public housing is the only solution to the crisis.

"Everybody should have a home,where they can walk in the door and smell their mother cooking their dinner. If anything you think that's what they miss chicken pasta bake and garlic bread," Theresa said, breaking down.

"Probably our old house back. Our dog doesn't really have a proper place to go and I'd rather her have a better place," Matthew said about his dog, who now lives with his granny.

"These are all old Dublin corporation housing stock that have been sold off over the years because for whatever reason the Government just doesn't want to carry housing stock.

"They should be making more, it's not the hotels, it's not landlords, it's the Government's responsibility to supply houses," she said.

Their story comes after three homeless people died last week - two who were sleeping rough at the time of their deaths and a young mum who took her own life in emergency accomodation.

Social Justice Ireland has said this morning that the Government must build 90,000 homes or admit failure.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said more radical action is needed to tackle the crisis.

*The names of the family members in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.

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