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Sunday 21 October 2018

'I never in my worst nightmare thought this would be happening to us' - Mum and four kids left homeless after job loss

Jessica Martin with son Tristan (1), from Gorey, Co Wexford. Photo: Patrick Browne
Jessica Martin with son Tristan (1), from Gorey, Co Wexford. Photo: Patrick Browne

Laura Lynott

A mother of four has spoken of the pain of becoming homeless with her children after she lost her job.

Jessica Martin (34), originally from Finglas, Dublin, but who had been living in Gorey, Co Wexford, was renting until she lost her job as a care worker for the disabled.

She returned to Dublin to live at a friend's house in the hope she will find a home in the city.

"I don't want my kids to be homeless. I never in my worst nightmare thought this would be happening to us," said Ms Martin.

"The children and I have no home now and I know I am lucky to have my friend but she has her own family.

"I want to work, I worked hard and got up to drive an hour to work every day and an hour back but I lost my job and this is life, it happens.

"I shouldn't be homeless for losing my job."

Ms Martin has been looking for rented accommodation for two months, with the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), - but said no landlord has so far accepted it.

"I've applied to rent hundreds of properties but no one will take HAP," she said.

"One landlord told me straight out 'no HAP' and a landlady said she liked me but she wouldn't take the payment because it would take too long to come through.

"I definitely feel I've been discriminated against with HAP and because I'm on my own and I have four kids."

Former housing minister Simon Coveney introduced a fine of up to €15,000, in January 2016, if agents or landlords discriminate against anyone receiving welfare payments.

A Department of Housing spokesman confirmed that it is illegal for a prospective tenant to be discriminated against on the grounds that they are in receipt of social housing support, including HAP.

But Ms Martin, who had been employed until May, says she never received call backs when she mentioned HAP.

"I thought I could rely on HAP to help until I got back on my feet, [but] I feel I'm being judged as being lower for being on HAP.

"I remember when I was looking to rent a home when I was working, it was easy - I just sailed in and rented, but not now."

Irish Independent

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