Wednesday 26 June 2019

Single mum-of-one to be made homeless in several weeks blames 'stigma' around HAP

Michelle and her six year old daughter Angelina, who will be made homeless in a matter of weeks.
Michelle and her six year old daughter Angelina, who will be made homeless in a matter of weeks.

Gabija Gataveckaite

A single mum-of-one from Dublin 8 who will be made homeless soon has slammed the ‘stigma’ surrounding HAP.

Michelle Ireland and her six year old daughter Angelina will be left stranded in a matter of weeks when their tenancy ends.

Because she is a recipient of social welfare and HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) she said that the stigma surrounding the payment has been hindering her from securing accommodation.

“There is still a huge stigma surrounding HAP, there is assumption that you are lazy and looking for a handout,” she said.

“A single mum with HAP is not welcomed.”

Speaking to Independent.ie, the desperate mum explained that she has been searching for accommodation for months, contacting every advert she sees, but to no avail.

“I had this daft.ie setting where immediately when a new advert is posted, I would receive a notification on my phone and I would immediately contact the landlord,” she explained.

“I would send 20 emails, and I would get one reply, or nothing.”

Currently, Michelle and her daughter rank as a ‘non-priority’ on the list for social housing. In desperation, she contacted government ministers and TDs, but none of which succeeded in putting her higher on the waiting list, which is 15 years long.

She is now frightened for her and her daughter’s future.

“I feel hopeless,” she said.

“I wake up every morning with fear and think, ‘what will we do, if we contact adverts, will anyone reply today’?”

The 36-year-old, who is originally from Prague in the Czech Republic but has lived in Ireland for 13 years, has a series of medical conditions, including epilepsy and fibromyalgia, which she was diagnosed with recently.

She believes that her health problems, as well as the stress of house hunting, is affecting her mental health.

“I lie awake at night, absolutely terrified about the future for me and my daughter. This is not something I planned or want for me and my daughter,” she explained.

Michelle has been out of work since she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in January. The condition sees her in a lot of pain and has reduced her mobility.

However, she has decided to go back to college and pursue a level eight degree in social care.

Her daughter Angelina, who has a heart condition and received open heart surgery when she was five months old, is very worried about leaving their current home.

“We go to regular doctor appointments but she’s a little fighter, like her mum.”

“She’s very sensitive to the move so I don’t want to change school as she’s all settled,” said Michelle.

It was because of her daughter that Michelle made the decision to return to education.

“I want to be a good role model for my daughter but I feel that I have tried everything and I don’t know where else to turn. There is no support for people like me and my daughter,” she added.

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