Sunday 15 September 2019

'The landlord got cold feet... it'll break my daughter's heart before Christmas'

Rosie is 30 years old and is living in Cork Simon Emergency Shelter Accommodation - she tells her story

Waiting for a chance: Rosie in Cork who faces spending Christmas without her daughter. Photo: Clare Keogh
Waiting for a chance: Rosie in Cork who faces spending Christmas without her daughter. Photo: Clare Keogh

Graham Clifford

I, and my seven-year-old daughter, became homeless about a year-and-a-half ago. Her stepdad left us and our landlord told us to move on as she was selling the apartment.

My world started to unravel. We were staying in bed and breakfasts and hotels and I was hanging around with the wrong crowd. I became reckless and I'd be the first to admit that my daughter was around people she really shouldn't have been.

We ended up in Edel House in Cork which provides emergency accommodation for homeless women and children.

My daughter and I stayed with family in Tralee and Dublin but it was from post to pillar. It wasn't right or fair, and six months ago, I decided to volunteer my daughter into care and I came here to the Cork Simon Shelter.

Giving up my daughter was the hardest thing I've ever done but I knew I had to be straight so that she could have the life she deserved after so many months of mayhem.

A few weeks ago, my key worker told me I was ready to start looking for accommodation. I found a house in a town outside Cork City - it wasn't perfect but it could have allowed me to get my daughter back.

I was overjoyed as finding a place to rent in Cork when you're on rent allowance is almost impossible.

I was meant to move in yesterday but the landlord's sister knew someone who knew about my past and my former partner. Things that shouldn't have been revealed. The landlord got spooked and I got a text message two days ago saying she'd changed her mind. I was devastated.

I'd told my daughter about the apartment… now I have to go back to her and tell her it fell through. It'll break her heart. I was supposed to get my daughter back on December 19 in time for Christmas, but now that won't happen and the search for a place of my own continues.

Last Christmas, we were in a bed and breakfast and I promised her that wouldn't happen again… but here we are. I'm here in the shelter and she's in West Cork.

I get cards off her every week saying I want to come home. I hang them on the wall beside my bed and look at them every morning.

Landlords usually don't give the homeless in Cork a chance.

When I ring up, I don't mention the Simon Community initially, I wait until I go to meet them. When they find out (you're homeless) a lot of landlords say they don't accept rent allowances or they come up with ways of fobbing you off. Usually they don't even give you the time of day.

My day is consumed with trying to find accommodation.

I've never had an addiction problem, I don't drink. I came here to Simon to get my head together and to work towards putting my life back on track. I used to be a chef and would like to get back to work again, but without your own address that's not really possible.

If landlords could just give me a chance, it could turn my life around and my daughter could be back with me again.

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