'It's scary,' says boy (9) as family faces being homeless
A nine-year-old boy who faces homelessness and is unsure where he will attend school come September has spoken about how "scary" life has become.
Tracy McGinnis and her sons Declan (9) and Brendan (12) are facing homelessness as the young family can't find a suitable home to rent in Co Kilkenny.
Brendan has severe brain damage caused by a virus called cytomegalovirus and needs an accessible home with enough room for his medical equipment.
As a result of the virus, Brendan, who is on hospice-level care, is unable to walk or talk. He has uncontrolled epilepsy, lung disease, osteoporosis and cerebral palsy and is on six doses of anti-seizure medication a day.
The family were left facing homelessness nine months ago after a relationship breakdown.
They moved from Co Kilkenny to Co Kildare, where they are currently renting a home from a landlord based in the UK.
Tracy was granted the HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) under Kildare County Council, but wants to move her young family back to Co Kilkenny where the boys can return to their original schools.
Kilkenny is home for the family and Brendan has access to a range of medical and educational support there.
Tracy has been removed from the Co Kildare housing list and is now applying to be added to the housing list in Co Kilkenny, but is facing a long wait.
"School starts next week and Declan isn't enrolled anywhere. Brendan is ready to go to his special school in Kilkenny that he attends. The current house in Kildare that we're living in isn't suitable."
Declan said he felt the pressure of homelessness and was worried about telling his friends at school.
"Sometimes I feel bad. Sometimes they say we get a house and then they don't give it to us, so it's very stressful," Declan said. "I'm looking forward to going back to school to see my friends but I don't know what school I'll be going to yet.
"I'm worried that if we don't find a house we could be homeless for who knows how long. It's scary. If we don't have a home, we wouldn't have shelter or a place to keep food... I am scared."
The Harry Potter fan says he loves reading books, watching movies and playing soccer.
"I wish someone would help me and all the other homeless kids," he said. "I've only told two of my friends that we're trying to find a new house. I don't talk to them about homelessness because they would get a big shock.
"It would be embarrassing to tell my friends that we could be homeless. I don't want to mention it because I just don't feel like it. I don't think they'd believe me because it sounds unbelievable. Nobody would want to be friends with me. That would be hard."
Declan said it upset him to think about it. "I stress out about it. It worries my mum so it worries me."
Tracy says she can't compete with families with two incomes bidding on properties.
"I can't compete with those who can offer more money on the site or they don't have a child with a disability....Brendan comes with his own bed and medical equipment. It's like a little hospital. Landlords don't want that."
Kilkenny County Council said while Ms McGinnis did not meet the criteria previously for housing support, she had since resubmitted an application for housing supports and her application was currently being processed.