herald

Sunday 19 November 2017

Homeless are forced to set up camp along canal in the shadow of Mountjoy jail

The tents erected along the banks of the Royal Canal
The tents erected along the banks of the Royal Canal

Some of the worst-hit victims of the housing crisis are being forced to live in tents along the banks of the Royal Canal.

Three Polish men, who have lost their rental homes, are among the inhabitants of about 14 tents currently erected at the rear of Mountjoy Prison.

They told the Herald they feel invisible in an Irish society that wanted their work in the good times - but turned a blind eye when they fell on hard times.

Tadeusz Iguatowicz, Adam Kakowczyk and Sebastian Sobok were part of the flush of Polish workers who came to Ireland during the boom in search of a better life.

Peril

However, rising rents have seen them end up in peril.

Mr Iguatowicz has a serious heart condition but refuses to leave the streets because he cannot find a hostel that will allow him to keep his beloved dog, who is all he has since his wife died in Poland six years ago.

"The maximum the hostels will allow you to have is a goldfish," he said.

He ended up homeless after renting a place for seven years while claiming disability allowance - but fell behind in rent after he applied for jobseeker's allowance as he wanted to work.

Also on the housing list for nine years was Mr Kakowczyk (30), who has a job and is saving money in the hope of affording rent.

He came to Ireland at the age of 17 as a butcher's apprentice, and also worked as a hostel receptionist. He lost those jobs during the recession and has been homeless since 2009.

Mr Kakowczyk is angry at the housing situation - but says he still loves this country.

Mr Sobok, who suffers from epilepsy, has a job in a processing plant but also lives along the canal. He points out that he cannot live in a hostel because, as a night worker, he needs to sleep during the day but hostels do not allow this.

With him on the canal yesterday was his girlfriend, Anna Szymanska, who suffers from depression and has previously attempted suicide.

She is currently living in a hostel and blames herself for her own homelessness, saying she had "bad relationships".

"It is very difficult," she said of her current life.

She has lost hope of getting housing here but says there is nothing left in Poland to go home for since her parents are dead.

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