Thursday 22 August 2019

Homeless family forced to live apart

Family lost their home due to increased rent

Lauren Berry with her son, Josh Cambell
Lauren Berry with her son, Josh Cambell

Mary Fogarty

A local family made homeless due to a rent increase is being forced to live apart, with parents and children all staying with different family members and friends.

Lauren Berry, a native of Bray who moved to Kilcoole with her parents some years ago, had been renting a property in Eden Gate along with her husband and their three children, aged seven, four and two.

The landlord increased the rent by eight per cent in March, which was within the law as the landlord had not increased the rent the previous year by the four per cent permitted under the rent pressure zone regulation. The HAP scheme had covered a portion of the rent, with the family paying the rest. However, they were not able to afford the increased sum. 'We are currently still homeless, we are split up every night with all the kids in different houses and myself and my husband in different houses,' said Ms Berry. She lost a job because she couldn't commit to the hours, with starting at 4.30 a.m. and collecting the kids from different houses. Lauren has recently secured full-time employment in a south Dublin hotel.

'I feel like I'm being victimised,' she said. 'I'm not looking to be housed immediately. I'm just looking for temporary emergency accommodation in the Wicklow area where I can commute to work and my kids can live with their parents, for now, until we find something more permanent.'

She said that she was offered B&Bs in Carlow and Wexford but she wouldn't have been able to get to work.

The family's bad luck began when Lauren's husband Jensen became ill with a condition that affected his mobility. He couldn't continue to work but Lauren was able to get a position at the same company.

'I thought we had time to find a new property,' said Ms Berry. 'We have good references, we work, we're married. I didn't realise how bad the rentals are. I can't count how many viewings I've been to.

'I do know there are a lot of people out there in the same circumstances,' she said. 'We've been homeless for a month now.'

Lauren said that the family were given vouchers for €80 per night for a number of nights but have none left and were unable to get rooms all the time. 'At one point we slept in the car,' she said. She said that they were given a room in a B&B in the south of the county but left.

'We were so happy [to get the room], but it was a hell-hole. There was blood and faeces on the sheets, it was damp. There were dead flies and cobwebs. The fridge was full of mouldy food and the smell was disgusting. At one point we saw a rat,' said Lauren. She said that one of the children has severe asthma and they could not stay in that accommodation.

'Since we left the B&B, we haven't been offered any emergency accommodation and nobody has rang us,' said Ms Berry.

'It's been a really tough year, it's been one thing after another,' she said. 'I went to MABS, I got my credit union loan repayment cut down, anything to make extra savings,' she said. 'We're trying our best and just need a chance to get back on our feet.'

Wicklow People