Vacant properties 'should be opened up for those in need'
The Wexford Housing Action Group, which has just succeeded in helping win an 11th-hour reprieve for a Wexford woman facing eviction with her children from a council house, is calling for vacant properties to be opened up for those most in need.
The group says the housing situation in Wexford is extremely serious, with a waiting list for beds in the 33-bed homeless shelter, Ozanam House, in Wexford town, hundreds of families living in overcrowded conditions, and with increasing rents, more and more are struggling to find affordable accommodation.
It says a social housing project should be immediately commenced.
'We are currently helping about 30 families around Wexford although there are a lot more in need,' said Aislin Wallace, from the group.
'There are adult children living with their parents because they cannot afford to live alone. We are dealing with all sorts of different situations,' she said.
Aislin said that officially there are 1,700 people on the waiting list for local authority housing in the county, although the true figure is far higher because of the way the council collates the list.
'A lot of people are not included because they are considered by the county council to be housed, when in reality they are not.'
The Wexford group says it is currently supporting many families to help themselves. The group offers support and advocacy for those in need. The aim of these support groups is to empower those in crisis by providing knowledge and support, and give people the confidence to act for themselves.
It is part of the Irish Housing Network, a national network of local groups from around the country.
The group says rent allowance must be brought up to a realistic rate, homeless support funding should be increased and the provision of housing must go hand in hand with the provision of services such as playschools, schools, community services and health services.
This newspaper recently highlighted the plight of a Wexford mother Elizabeth Ryan, who had been living with her three children in a single room in a Wexford B&B for four-and-a-half months after she moved out of a rented house in Clonard when it was re-possessed by the banks from her landlord.
Elizabeth has since been re-homed as a result of the work of the action group and yesterday, a Wexford woman threatened with eviction from her late ex-partner's house was given time to find a new house..
Mother-of-two Claire Malone, who recently lost her partner, had been facing eviction from a county council house at Ard Uisce, Whiterock Hill.
She said Wexford County Council had told her she would be evicted following her former partner Michael Gallagher's passing in September.
'They said that after that we will be placed in emergency accommodation if I don't have anywhere else to go.'
Claire, who is on the lung transplant list, had been separated from Michael, but moved back in with the father of her children in September to look after him when he contrated pneumonia. He died a short time later. Her name is not on the council books for the house, but her children, Fionn, aged nine, and Cormac, aged seven, are listed.
Yesterday, Wexford Housing Action Group and Action4You, which supported her at a meeting with the council, said had been given a written assurance from the council that she would be given the time they need to find a suitable home.
'I just want to thank everybody that helped me get my story out there. I'm overwhelmed by the support from the people of Wexford. I'm so relieved that I got the outcome I needed, I'm absolutely delighted,' said Claire, whose online petition attracted 1,000 signatures.
Ursula Warren from the action group has meanwhile appealed on Claire's behalf for a landlord with a 2-3 bed house for the family. Ursula can be reached on 086 0500099
The Action Group says it aims to provide accurate information, to dispel the myths around homelessness, and to highlight the issues being faced by people in crisis. To facilitate this the group will be running support groups in Wexford town community centres: At the FAB Centre in Coolcotts at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 20, at the Wolfe Tone Community project at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 27 and at the South End Community Centre at 10 a.m. on Friday, December 4.