High rents leave local family facing the prospect of homelessness
Dingle man Billy Noonan and his daughter Emma are staring homelessness in the face because they can't afford the high rents that are charged in West Kerry and Kerry County Council has failed to provide them with alternative accommodation.
For the past two years, Billy and Emma have paid €650 a month to rent a house in Mullinaglemig near Dingle but now the owner is selling the property and they have to leave by this Saturday, having already been given an extension of their original notice to quit by May 30.
"On that day we will be homeless. I haven't a clue where we're going to go. You'd never think there would be somebody homeless in Dingle," Billy told The Kerryman this week.
Billy earns a modest wage as a tour bus driver but the work only lasts from May to September and he has to go on the dole for the winter. Emma (aged 23) has a seasonal job in a B&B. The money they make isn't enough to cover the cost of most rental accommodation in Dingle, even with the help of the HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) Scheme, so Billy and Emma now find themselves with nowhere to live and nowhere to go.
"What we make in the summer we have to stretch over the winter but it's not enough to pay the kind of rents being charged in Dingle," said Billy. "We've priced places in Dingle but even for a one-bedroom flat you could be paying €900 a month. How can we afford that?"
Billy and his ex-wife have been separated for the past 10 years and two years ago they divorced. For seven months after that Billy and Emma stayed with friends, moving from house to house.
"They were really very, very helpful but you feel that you're imposing on people. It isn't even fair to be asking people," said Billy, adding: "It's no way to live at 56 years of age".
For the past three years he has been on the council's housing list, but despite numerous direct appeals to the authority and representations made on his behalf by local councillors he has been told that he won't get a house in the foreseeable future. Worse still, Billy feels he will always be low on the council's list of housing priorities because he is male and Emma is no longer a child.
"I honestly don't know what we're going to do now. There are two or three families I can stay with but it's not fair to be asking them, and it's embarrassing all round," said Billy, adding: "I often thought about getting a sleeping bag and sleeping outside the council offices in Tralee to see if they would take any notice of us."
"The anxiety and stress is unbelievable. People think I'm having the life of Reilly driving around the country in a tour but, but the anxiety and stress of not knowing where we are going to stay is a killer."