Empty houses ‘sicken’ homeless mum-of-one
A young mother who has been homeless for eight months has said it sickens her to pass boarded-up council houses while bringing her daughter to school every day.
A YOUNG mother who has been homeless for eight months has said it sickens her to pass boarded-up council houses while bringing her daughter to school every day.
Erica Fleming (30), who featured on the recent My Homeless Family documentary on RTE, is in emergency hotel accommodation, sharing a room and a bed with her daughter Emily (9).
Last night she told the Herald how she passes boarded-up homes, called “voids” by Dublin City Council, every day – with some of them lying idle for more than two years.
“I know that even if all the empty houses were suddenly fixed up it wouldn’t solve the problem for everyone, but it would shorten the waiting list for the rest of the homeless,” she said.
“I’ve told the council if they take the hoardings off one of them and make sure the heating works I’ll go in and fix the place up myself. I’m tired of us being bounced from place to place.
“I want our next home to be the one that Emily starts her debs from, the one she celebrates her 21st in, the one she walks out of to get married. I want her to have the stability she deserves.
“There are three flats in Kilmore boarded up. It’s frustrating to see the number of houses in Coolock boarded up. I’m not looking for anything fancy, just something on the northside, preferably near to Emily’s school. I’ve nominated Coolock, Santry and Kilbarrack on my forms, but I’ll take something outside that if needs be.”
Erica said she was amazed at the reaction to the My Homeless Family programme. “Homelessness has become a hopeless situation, but doing the programme gave me drive and focus. It gave me hope,” she said.
“I feared I was going to be judged as a homeless lone parent, but in Ireland we don’t talk about things, so I wanted to bring it to the surface – and 99pc of the comments I have got have been positive.
“I’m not looking for sympathy, but empathy for the homeless. I work and I can’t afford a place to live. I might be better off if I didn’t work but that’s not what I want. I want Emily to learn that you go to school, maybe go to college, get a job and work to pay your way.”
In 2014 Dublin City Council returned 467 vacant properties to productive use with Department of Environment funding of more than €6m.