'We deserve a roof over our heads'
Published 21/05/2016 | 00:00
Forty-year-old Una Gilliland is a grandmother but in a few weeks time she will be back sleeping on her own mother's sofa as she waits for Wexford County Council to provide her with a home.
Born and raised in Wexford, Una moved to England with her mother Anne when she was 15 years old and returned here in 2011 after her long-term relationship with the father of her 23-year-old daughter Kelly, came to an end.
After a short time living with her mum, she rented a cottage in Kilmore which she is now giving up because she can't afford the heating costs in winter or the expense of regular trips to Rosslare Harbour where most of her relatives reside, including her daughter and granddaughter Sinead who moved to Wexford a year ago and are living in a rented house in the Harbour, along with her mother and an aunt who is unwell.
'I decided to come back to Wexford because my mother had returned and my brother is also here. I moved in with my mum because I didn't have anywhere else to sleep. I slept on her sofa and stayed in friends' houses,' said Una who formerly attended school in Kilmore and Bridgetown.
She first applied for Council housing in mid-2011 and shortly afterwards she received a rent supplement of €54 a week from the Department of Social Protection towards the cost of renting the Kilmore property. 'I had to pay the rest. You're not supposed to but I had to.
'The housing officer I was dealing with told me I should get a room in shared accommodation but I wanted a place where my daughter and granddaughter could visit me.'
Una said she didn't realise that you must notify the Council of a change of address and insists that neither she or her mother received a letter which the Council claimed was sent out in late-2011 asking if her circumstances had changed. She was taken off the list when no reply was forthcoming.
Una didn't discover this until she applied last year for a house that became vacant in St Brendan's Estate, Rosslare Harbour.
'Then I was told that I wasnt't even on the housing list. I had to re-apply. I lost all those years. I was absolutely gutted. I was devastated.
'I had been waiting for a property to come up. I knew I had a few years behind me but then I was told this.
'I have four weeks to move out of the house in Kilmore. I can't afford the rent. I can't afford to heat it. I don't get to see any of my family because I can't afford the petrol.
'I'm going to be back living with my mum and I'll be sleeping on the sofa because there is no spare bedroom. My step dad is there and my mum has guardianship of her 15-year-old niece,' she said.
Una said it's harder for single people to get a house. 'We're not seen as a priority but we deserve to have a roof over our heads the same as anyone else. You're told single people should be living in shared accommodation but why should I live in a house with strangers?
'If I could afford to have a house I would buy one if I had the money,' said Una who has asked Deputy James Browne TD and local advocate Padge Reck for assistance in her dealings with the Council.