herald

Thursday 24 August 2017

'We can't go on', says homeless family living in hotel bedroom

Kerry Darcy O’Brien shares the hotel room with her mother, Helen, and four-year-old son, Kai
Kerry Darcy O’Brien shares the hotel room with her mother, Helen, and four-year-old son, Kai

A homeless young mum and her four-year-old are having to live in a single hotel room with her 48-year-old mother, who has cancer.

Kerry Darcy O'Brien said she has "run out of options" in her quest to find a home and has issued a heartfelt plea to Dublin City Council.

The 23-year-old said the family have no cooking or washing facilities in the room at the Travelodge on the Navan Road, and mostly eat take-aways.

"We are just so stressed. I haven't been able to sit down and think," she told the Herald.

"I just want anything. It's like we're just existing here. I know it's hard out there, I know there are plenty of people in this situation but we would just appeal for a home."

She said she and her son Kai had been living in a rented house in Finglas, but had to move out in the summer because the landlord wanted it for himself.

Ms Darcy O'Brien, who qualifies for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), said she was unable to find alternative accommodation.

In the meantime, her mother, Helen, who was living in Liverpool, was diagnosed with cancer. She decided to return to Dublin to be near her family during chemotherapy and moved in with her daughter, who is now her full-time carer.

"We were living with family and friends but it became too much. We got in touch with TDs and about two months ago we got this room," she said.

Immune

Until recently they had no fridge, but one has now been donated by a friend.

"My mother is going through chemo and her immune system is down, so everything should be spotless in the room, but that's impossible," she added.

"This is not a place for a young child to be living or a woman going through cancer treatment."

The living arrangements are taking their toll on the family and Ms Darcy O'Brien has made an appointment for them to see a psychiatrist.

"We can't go on living like this," she said.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney has promised an end to homeless families being housed in hotels, and last month claimed "we're ahead of schedule".

Mr Coveney said the Government exceeded its target of 4,200 social housing solutions last year by almost 1,000 through acquisitions, bringing void units back into use, long-term lease arrangements and new construction.

"There's a real acceleration happening here in terms of delivery," he said, pledging that there would be more than 21,000 social housing solutions provided in 2017.

However, new figures released last week showed rates of child homelessness increased by 55pc last year.

There were 2,505 children registered as homeless across Ireland in December, compared to 1,616 during the same month in 2015.

Children's charity Barnardos said children were the invisible victims of the housing crisis.

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