Family-of-five forced to squat as rent goes up
A family-of-five, who are currently squatting in their house in Blessington following a cap on their rent allowance, say they feel disappointed and isolated by council services.
Rob Dalton, his partner Sarah Finney and their three children are currently in limbo after being told by Wicklow County Council that they can do nothing more to assist them as they have no houses available for them to move into.
Instead the council has suggested that the family move into temporary accommodation in Wicklow or Dublin or stay with relatives.
Mr Dalton said that they are at their wits' end because there appears to be no real solution to their family's accommodation problem.
"The attitude of the council has been unsympathetic, they basically want to move us onto another county where we would be someone else's problem," he told the Herald.
"It is not fair that a family with three children are being treated like cattle that can be shifted from one location to the next.
"We would have to sell our pets and furniture."
The family moved into the three-bedroom house two years ago when the rent was €740 a month.
But in April of this year, the couple were informed that their rent allowance was to be capped at €625.
Their landlord was not in a position to decrease the rent and the family have had no choice but to look for alternative accommodation - which they say is proving difficult.
"The average rent for the sort of house we need is nowhere near €625 in the area," said Mr Dalton, who works part-time.
With three children in education, the 35-year-old said it was out of the question to set up home in another area.
"Mark, in particular, who is 15, has his Junior Cert next year and a move to another school would be of no benefit to him at all," he said.
"It is also impossible to move in with relatives. My parents live in a one-bed apartment in Westmeath and, similarly, Sarah's father lives in a one-bed home in the North."
According to the couple, four social houses were recently made available in the Glen Ding housing estate in Blessington, however the family we're not considered for accommodation.
"I was told that there were other applicants more in need. How can you get higher than homeless?" he said.
Furthermore, Mr Dalton claims that there are 11 NAMA-owned houses lying vacant in the estate for over a year.
He said that these homes could be used to alleviate the social housing crisis had the council applied to the body as other counties have done.
A spokesperson for Wicklow County Council told the Herald: "The Council has linked the family in with other support services in the area."
"Both council and non-council staff are working to identify alternative accommodation opportunities for the family in question," the representative added.