WHEN Mailana Lessa (28) first came to Dublin nine months ago from her native town of Salvador in Brazil, she had no idea she was landing into the middle of an accommodation crisis.
A qualified psychologist, she is a language student and also working part-time. It has always been her dream to live in Ireland and become fluent in English. But she said the past few months have been a “nightmare” as she has struggled to find suitable accommodation in the capital city due to the lack of supply.
“When I first came here, I was doing a house-share in Dublin 1 but it was only a temporary arrangement,” she said. “It was only meant to be for one month but then I couldn’t find anywhere else and the landlord let me stay on.
“That was a house-share with six or seven other people but she needed the room back at the end of March so I’ve been looking since then,” said Ms Lessa.
She found accommodation for the summer in another house-share in Ballymun but her language course is in the city centre so she cycles in, battling Dublin’s busy traffic in order to save money.
She then has to cycle to her job on the northside before travelling back home, meaning she has a 20km cycle every day which works out at around 100km a week.
“I have been looking for somewhere closer to the city centre but there is nothing available, especially for my budget,” she said. “I have looked in loads of areas and expanded out the search. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing at night and it’s starting to have a real effect on my mental health.
“As soon as an ad for accommodation goes up, there’s hundreds of people looking at it and it’s gone within an hour. I went recently to somewhere that was €2,000 a month for two bedrooms and there were already 15 people waiting outside.
“A woman told me there were 20 more inside so I just gave up, there was no point waiting,” she said.
She has found it difficult to even get a viewing as she feels that many landlords are reluctant to rent to students or non-nationals as they think their stay here may only be temporary.
Many of her friends have experienced similar difficulties with some being forced to live in houses with up to 30 other people or paying exorbitant rents for a short-term lease.
It’s been really stressful for me and I’ve had so much anxiety since I came to Dublin
Ms Lessa knows of others who are currently paying around €650 each to share a bedroom with up to three other people in cramped houses. Several of them have been forced to go back home as a result of the crisis.
She said she will also have to leave Ireland if she can’t find somewhere suitable as it is affecting her whole experience here.
She feels like the situation is becoming worse and the lack of supply has become chronic.
“I have one friend who’s been sleeping on a couch as she is basically homeless,” she said. “It’s been really stressful for me and I’ve had so much anxiety since I came to Dublin.
“Living in an English-speaking country has always been my dream. But now I’m so worried when it comes to where I’m going to live.
“Having somewhere secure to sleep every night is a fundamental need and I feel it’s not being met for so many people.”