‘I’m due my baby on Tuesday – the day that we’re being evicted from our home. We have nowhere else to go’
Kate O’Keeffe and her partner are expecting their third child but the family have to leave their house next week, writes Amy Molloy
A woman whose baby is due on the same day her family is to be evicted from their home says they have nowhere else to go.
Kate O’Keeffe and partner Stephen Bermingham were served a notice of termination just a couple of months after they found out she was expecting their third child.
The family, who have been on the social housing waiting list with Wicklow County Council since 2014, have to leave their rental property by Tuesday – the same day she is due to give birth at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.
They have been renting a four-bedroom house in Rathnew, Co Wicklow, for three years, for €1,600 per month. The family gets the Housing Assistance Payment and had entered into a four-year agreement on the property.
However, the landlord now wishes to sell the house. The couple were issued with a notice of termination on September 30 last year and have been unable to find alternative accommodation within their budget.
Mr Bermingham works full-time with the NCT and Ms O’Keeffe had to give up work to mind their 14-month old daughter Éabha. Their eldest daughter Mia is 11.
Ms O’Keeffe said she was trying to stay calm for the health of the baby, but described the situation as “extremely scary”.
“We have no idea where we are going to end up or what we are going to do. We’ve had doctors’ letters and everything recommending and pleading with the council to try and sort us out before it causes problems during the pregnancy, but even trying to talk to anyone in the council has been a nightmare,” she said.
A search on Daft.ie for four-bed houses in Wicklow shows just three available. The cheapest is €2,350 per month. The other two are priced at €3,120 and €3,450.
“There’s nothing out there and anything that is available is overpriced. Even for a three-bed you’re looking at around €2,500.
“We’ve been in the house three years. We lived here for the first year without the HAP and then we signed up to the HAP due to my other daughter being born. It was impossible for my partner to cover the rent by himself.
“My other daughter also goes to school in the area and all her friends are here.
"It’s an absolute nightmare"
In recent weeks, Wicklow County Council has had zero capacity in its emergency accommodation.
Ms O’Keeffe and her partner, who are in their mid-30s, cannot move in with family because their siblings live at home.
“Our families feel so helpless,” she said.
“They’re overcrowded as it is and there’s not much they can do. They can’t take in us and three kids.
“The Government isn’t helping at the moment. We’re taking in more refugees when there is no accommodation available and there are more people being made homeless.
“They’ve decided not to extend the eviction ban and have put nothing else in place, it’s very frustrating.
“We can’t watch the news any more as it’s so upsetting.
"We’ve been on the housing list for nine years. I know of people who are on it 16 years and still waiting.
“The politicians are sitting in their rooms and having these arguments but they haven’t a clue what’s happening in the real world.
“If you look to get a mortgage, the banks don’t even want to know you.
"It’s one roadblock after another"
“My partner has been working full-time since he was 15. It’s not fair to be in this situation.”
Wicklow County Council said it does not comment on individual cases. It said there is “limited emergency accommodation and every effort is under way to increase capacity”.