Facing homelessness in 2018

After a very surprising and unexpected conversation with a fellow member of Dublin Chamber of Commerce, I asked her to write a guest blog post for me. This is the first time I have done this on my blog.

The very lovely, intelligent and highly qualified, Jensine-Bethna Wall has recently started her own business, Hyphenate, and is facing the prospect of being homeless.

Dublin, we have a serious problem..

Ireland, we have a serious problem..

Blog post by Jensine:

The New Year has just begun and already fear has nestled itself tightly into the pit of my stomach.

After eight years of calling the house I rent my home in a few months time I have to move out, and find a new place to stay. So unlike so many who look towards 2018 full of hope and optimism my mind is clogged with trying to figure out what to do once the 1st of May has arrived, and I no longer have a roof over my head.

Moving has always been a traumatic event in anyone’s life but now for many, who live and work in Dublin (and the rest of Ireland), moving has become a fiscally impossible task. Irish rents are rising at six times the European median (The Irish Times 8th January 2018) which means that salaries don’t go far in this new Irish rental market.

Ironically the rental market is also the reason why I have to move.

My landlord claims it has to do with me being late with my rent a few time over the years but I know, from what he has said and from how he kept bringing ‘market value’ up, that he wants me out so he can hike up the price.

Since I’ve been living in the property since 2010 he can only increase the rent little by little so now he wants me out. He doesn’t care that I have been a vital part in creating a community in the street, or that I have increased the value of his property by helping to get rid of drug dealers in the neighbourhood, nor is he interested in the fact that after eight years of me living in the cottage all it needs is a lick of paint and someone could move right back in – no major refurbishment required!

So during these sleepless nights trying to figure out what I can afford and where I could go I can’t help but feel forgotten by the government and those who don’t seem to recognise how problematic the rental market is in Ireland. And sadly, as a single, female who lives on her own I am also not a high priority for the media.

And while of course I understand the need to house children, I can’t help but feel that a roof over my head and a place to feel safe and secure in, is just as important for me. But with the lack of housing and the need for single occupancy living quarters, single people are at the bottom of everyone’s priority list.

My recent visit to the Dublin City Council Housing Services proves just how low a priority I am, as I was told that I would have to wait 12 years before ‘affordable rented housing for people on low income’ would become available for me, even though all the forms I had to fill in and were stamped, deemed me eligible.

After I burst out laughing, the horror of the situation demanded tears or laughter, I was told that I may be eligible for HAP (Housing Assistance Payment). But this brief moment of hope was shattered with the added statement “if you can find a landlord who will accept it’”

Not understanding why landlords wouldn’t accept a regular payment from the State and that it is actually illegal not to, I asked around and found three reasons why:

1) The rent is paid in arrears, so the landlord won’t receive payment until the end of the month, which for many doesn’t coincide with their mortgage payments and why wait when so many pay up front?

2) The landlord will have to register their property and many don’t as they avoid taxes by not doing so

3) There is some paperwork involved and landlords won’t want to do that if there is no need when queues form for every viewing

Scouring the Internet for any suitable housing is eating up hours of my days, adding to my stress and increasing the crippling fear that has taken up residency in my stomach.

I set up my own business in October 2017 and work from home, office space is too expensive, but this means that sharing accommodation isn’t desirable.

And since I am in my forties and have lived on my own most of my adult life forcing me to cohabit due to financial strain will not benefit my mental health.

Recently the NHS completed a study on the effects that housing has on peoples health and found that  “good quality, affordable, safe housing underpins our mental and physical well-being”, so when there is no affordable housing, let alone safe and quality ones, people suffer more from depression and anxiety.

As the year grows older by the day I can’t help but wonder how I, an educated, socially conscious and community oriented single woman, have ended up facing homelessness in 2018.

Jensine

 

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