herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Homeless couple plead for a roof over their heads

HomeLess couple Teresa and Noel sleep rough most nights and pay little heed to the Government's pronouncements.

But they had one hope before yesterday's Budget was announced.

"We hope there will be more places for couples sleeping rough who want to stay together," said Teresa (42).

In the last three months, she and Noel have spent only one night in a bed with a roof over their heads.

Their most frequent place to sleep rough at night on the cold ground in Dublin is in the shelter of the Custom House, the headquarters of the Government department responsible for housing the homeless.

Teresa and Noel, who chose not to give their real names, said state agencies should give more help to couples who would rather sleep rough together than be given separate emergency accommodation in hostels.

They spoke to the Herald while sitting with sleeping bags on the steps of the Custom House as temperatures fell along the banks of the Liffey late on Sunday night.

Yesterday's announcement of an extra €10m to take the state homeless services' allocation to €65.5m may not bring them much comfort if they continue to sleep rough as winter nights loom.

Noel (32) displayed a fresh long scar on the top of his head. He said he was drunk one night in the porch of the Custom House when he fell over backwards and his head went through a window in the 200-year-old building.

He added that he and Teresa had accommodation last winter in a flat in Clanbrassil Street but they were evicted for arguing loudly.

"I was getting turfed out of the place and Teresa came with me," he said.

Teresa said she has five adult children and six grandchildren. She won't live with her children.

"I'd like if we had our own roof over our head instead of us walking around all day in the cold. We don't like the hostels because there's bullies in them," she said.

deterrent

Teresa was still wearing a hospital identity band on her wrist from the Mater where she had just been treated for "a bad chest".

Bright lights shining in the porch may act as a deterrent to rough sleepers. The couple said they might try to sleep in a doorway at the nearby Liberty Hall where it was not so cold.

But they have not felt safe behind the railings of the Customs House since "a sick b***ard" woke Teresa with his laughter as she slept in a doorway and he attempted to urinate on her in front of his mates.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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