Sunday 22 September 2019

'I didn't have the heart to put him out on the street' - Irish woman on opening her house to homeless people

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An Irish woman has spoken about opening her house temporarily to two homeless people to help them get back on their feet.

Speaking to RTE's Liveline, Elaine explained that is currently housing a man from Catalonia called Jonathan (31) and his acquaintance.

"I met him at the GPO, I knew his friend, they were getting sandwiches and soup and it was not a very good evening," she said

"I brought them home. The other acquaintance had a job in construction. I've given [the acquaintance] a room, he pays me rent. He's gone at 6 in the morning.

"It's temporary because he wants to get a studio but he needs a deposit first. It's just getting him on the road to getting his own independence."

Meanwhile, Jonathan is staying with Elaine for three nights only as he recovers from a chest infection.

"He only had a sleeping bag and I didn't have the heart to put him out on the streets, I wouldn't do that to a dog," she said.

"He's feeling better so he's leaving today but he will go back to sleeping on the streets."

While Elaine explained that she didn't know the two men very well, she said she "knew enough" to open her door to them.

Jonathan, who has a masters in engineering, said that he struggled to get a job when he arrived in Ireland. He explained that he has "a little" family in Spain but he doesn't want to return to his native country.

He said he found it difficult to get the documentation required to get a PPS number when he arrived in Ireland and couldn't open a bank account without a fixed address. Things started to fall apart and he soon found himself without accommodation or money to pay for the basics such as food and water.

"I'm trying to progress bit by bit but you have to [start] at the bottom before you reach the top," Jonathan told Liveline.

"I didn't come [to Ireland] with nothing in my pockets," he said. "I had cash and money in my bank account but that ran out at some point."

Jonathan said that he usually sleeps rough in doorways in the city with only a sleeping bag for protection but said that he is keen to find work and "a better life".

Elaine praised Jonathan's work ethic and said she hopes that he gets back on his feet soon.

"He is very good at electrical work, he fixed a switch on my cooker in about five minutes. He has skills. To repay me, my lawnmower was broken and he cut the grass with shears. He has the work ethic. I have been very much impressed [with him]," she said.

While she is reluctant to see Jonathan back on the streets again now that he has recovered from his chest infection, she said she has to think about her family.

"I can't keep everybody in my house I've got a family too," she said.

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