herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

I can't let my little boy live in damp homes infested with cockroaches - mum

Sonia Matthews with her son Leighton
Sonia Matthews with her son Leighton

A teenage mum had to flee homeless accommodation in Dublin with her sick six-month-old son because one property was infested with cockroaches and another was riddled with damp.

Sonia Matthews (19) took her son Leighton out of accommodation provided to her by homeless services after she found her plates and kitchen counters covered in insects and cockroaches.

In August, Sonia and her son were transferred from other homeless accommodation because it was so damp and dirty.

"I just couldn't have the baby there," Sonia told the Herald.

"One night it was so cold I had to wrap Leighton up with four blankets and put a hat on him to keep him warm," she added.

Damp

But she found that the next accommodation was little improved.

"I came in to find cockroaches all over my sink and our food. I had to throw out a full grocery shop," she said.

Her son has only just been released from hospital after suffering from a vomiting virus.

"I can't stay there during the day with him, so I walk the streets," said the young mother.

Sonia brought her son to hospital for treatment for a vomiting bug and healthcare professionals raised concerns about the quality of accommodation for the young mum and her baby.

In two letters, seen by the Herald, the hospital asked that Ms Matthews and her son be housed in "appropriate" and "habitable" accommodation due to Leighton's illness.

"Sonia reports that the accommodation is very damp and dirty," the letter outlined. "Such housing conditions are not the best for the health of Leighton. Sonia has been advised to return with Leighton to the hospital if his symptoms persist."

damaged

Sonia showed the letters to the homeless service in a plea to get better accommodation after registering for housing almost two years ago.

Ms Matthews also showed the Dublin City Council service photographs of her accommodation where splatters of blood, damaged walls, insects and damp were evident.

Ms Matthews said she had previously looked for private accommodation but could not get anywhere because landlords would not accept rent allowance.

"I just can't stay there, I can't live there anymore. I can't bear being in a place like that, never mind a filthy one, because Leighton is prone to infections," she said.

"I think more of Leighton than I do of myself. I want a home - anything for me and my son. I want my son well again and for him to get active."

Dublin City Council homeless services said in a statement:

"Dublin City Council Homeless Services Facilities Management are working with the relevant accommodation providers to ensure that the physical standards in temporary accommodation are upheld and maintained. Where standards fall short of what is expected, Dublin City Council will work with the provider concerned to ensure that standards are adhered to through regular inspections and follow up with the providers concerned."

hnews@herald.ie

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