Mum-of-two pushed out of rented accommodation - 'I'm close to a nervous breakdown, my hair's falling out with stress'
Michelle McCarthy (33) understands the effect on a family of being pushed out of rented accommodation.
Along with partner Christopher (33) and their two daughters Chelsea (16) and Jodie (10), she has been forced to move back into her mother's house in Edenmore, Dublin.
"The four of us are living in a box room," she said.
"We were living in a house in Dublin 13 for four years and paying €950 a month. We were renting off a friend of the family and were told in November that they were moving back in, so we moved out in April."
The family now live with Michelle's mother, sister and her sister's six-week-old baby in a three-bedroom house.
"We are all crammed into the house, we can't find anywhere at all. It's just dreadful," said Michelle.
"I've been going to Dublin City Council and they tell me I'm number 136 on a list to get a place. I'm in an awful state with stress - I'm close to a nervous breakdown. My hair is falling out and that has never happened before. Some days I don't get out of bed because I just want to block it all out.
"The kids are up-ended, they're living out of bags and boxes. They're all the time asking about it. They're saying, 'Mam, I can't go homeless'.
"Their friends at school ask where they're living and I tell them to say they're staying at their nanny's."
Michelle said the upheaval has created a bad atmosphere in the house.
"It's breaking the family. We're a very close family, but now we're fighting all the time. It's overcrowded, and we were told we might have to go homeless.
"Sometimes I have to stay at my sister-in-law's or at friends' houses to give them a break."
Michelle and Christopher are not working at present.
"Every landlord won't accept rent allowance. I've gone to viewings where they've said at the end that they don't accept rent allowance. They don't give a reason," said Michelle. "We have loads of good references.
"We're looking for a two-bedroom apartment, our own roof over our head. I said to the social worker who has been dealing with us that I would live in a mobile home at this stage.
"I think the amount of empty houses and closed-up buildings that could be used for housing is disgraceful.
"I know there are people in worse situations, who are sleeping rough, and I think I'm going through the worst, but mine isn't as bad as other people.
"I've been to TDs but I stopped going. The only one I still deal with is Tommy Broughan - he's a great help so I'm sticking with him.
"With the kids and my mental health, over the last six months we've been through a lot."