"Mother and Her Child with Downs Syndrome Face Homelessness Due to Council Red Tape" - Sarah Beasley
The secretary of Aontú, and party spokesperson on homelessness, Sarah Beasley, has described as 'absolutely unbelievable', Fingal County Council's decision to stand by and watch as a mother of three young children, one of whom has Downs Syndrome, are made homeless, having failed an attic inspection.
Speaking today, Ms Beasley said:
"In recent days I've spoken to a lady called Natasha White, a mother of three young children, the youngest being only five years of age, and the older two having Downs Syndrome and ADHD respectively. I understand the family will soon be evicted from their home in Ballyfermot as their landlord intends to sell the property. A homeless shelter would be inappropriate for this family given the needs of the children. The council initially offered to purchase the property so as to avoid the eviction, but following an inspection of the house they didn't approve of an attic conversion and so decided not to purchase".
Ms Beasley continued: "I've worked on many housing cases in my time, but this is the most infuriating. Presumably the council have identified a trip or safety hazard in the attic, and for this reason they've basically said 'no, we can't help you - good luck' and watch on as that vulnerable family edge towards homeless. We all know modern Ireland and local authorities have become known for their excessive red tape, but it is particularly sad to see that the system has become void of any semblance of compassion. We need to bring some humanity back into this system".
"Aontú will be continuing in our campaign to open up the many vacant and boarded-up properties around the country. We cannot persist with a situation where children with disabilities are sleeping on couches or in homeless hostels. Today's news of a rise in the number of tenancy termination notices received by the Residential Tenancies Board, coupled with the 'two to a room' policy for students returning to college, showcase all the more the gravity of this crisis. We need immediate action in the form of taxation on vacant or boarded-up properties in order to force or encourage them back into the rental market. There are 166,000 vacant homes in Ireland, with about 50,000 of them having been vacant for more than six years. This fact pours salt on the wounds of young homeless families in the State. People at their most vulnerable should not be forced to speak to the media in order to get the attention of their local authority – and yet this seems to be the only avenue which produces results. It’s a heart-breaking state of affairs", concluded Ms Beasley.