Friday 24 May 2019

Pregnant mum's social house hell

Janice Murray in her cramped bedroom
Janice Murray in her cramped bedroom
Mould on the wall in the kitchen

David Looby

Every day pregnant mum-of-two Janice Murray calls Wexford County Council and sobs down the phone line to a voice answer machine, pleading for a bigger house for her children.

Janice, 31, lives at a squat bungalow house in Longmeadows, New Ross, surrounded by elderly neighbours. 'These are supposed to be for elderly people living on their own. This is the last resort but it's the only thing I can do,' Janice says in a half-whisper, rubbing her eyes.

She has been living at the house for around a decade and is feeling the walls close in on her as the clock ticks down to the birth of her third child, which is due on October 21.

'I moved in with one child. I was quite happy and comfortable with one child living here. It was fine when it was just me and Carley. I had Kayleigh four years later. It was very hard and it didn't feel like a home any more. It just felt like somewhere to sleep. I tried to make it as homely as I could because there is no space in it and on rainy days the girls have no play room or space. They spend two nights a week with their granny because I don't have a home for them. I feel like I have failed them.'

Janice said she is depressed about her living conditions, pointing to mould and damp on her kitchen ceiling. 'I have been to the doctor with high blood pressure and have been on a nebulizer for asthma only a few weeks ago.'

She said she was confident that the family would be moved into a better, more suitable house in New Ross, but years passed by and there have been no offers. 'I kept quiet for a long time because they told me they were going to move me because it wasn't suitable for two kids living here so I kept quiet I am going to get a transfer soon and I am not going to put any more money into this house. And I was waiting and waiting and I am still waiting. I am on the list four years.'

She was told by a housing officer to attend Maryville psychiatric services on Cross Street, but Janice said it is her living environment that is making her ill. Janice said she almost bled to death in her house last year when she had a miscarriage. She decided to have a third child and hopes she can bring it up in a more suitable environment.

'When I have the baby in October I'll have to move in to the sitting-room and with the buggy and the playpen and everything there will be no room. I just feel like I'm going slowly crazy here. I can't sleep. How can you sleep when you have to get up several times during the night to get a glass of water or to go to the toilet. I can't even get in and out of my bed without banging into it.

'There are houses including one up directly from my mother's house in Barrowview Heights. There's one in Haughton Place, in the estate at the top of Michael Street and in Lacken Valley. As my kids are getting older they can't have friends over for a sleepover and they can't do anything that other kids can do. They can't have anyone play in their room because there is no room for even them to play. As they start hassling me I say I have to fight for my kids because they deserve comfort.'

Janice was put on a transfer list because she said she was told the house wasn't suitable with two children. 'I ring them every day and then when they don't answer and when their mail box is full I sit there and just cry my eyes out. There is nothing else I can do, I can't get in contact with them. It they maybe answered their phone and just told me there was nothing they could do for me right now, but that they'd keep me updated about my place on the list, but they just leave you thinking all sorts and I just feel like I don't exist to them. I'm hoping that they see how I'm living and think what it would be like for them if their child was living in a house like this. To have some compassion. I feel that my children and I are entitled to better living conditions that this.'

Janice said the 11 Longmeadows is only a place to exist in for her, adding that it would make a lovely home for an elderly person. 'We have lovely neighbours here. They are brilliant and it's a nice estate, but I need more space for my children.'

A Wexford County Council spokesperson said they will contact Janice and arrange a meeting with a housing liaison officer to discuss her situation.

New Ross Standard