HAP refusals from landlords have left Wexford family homeless
Mother of two forced to return to cramped family home
On Thursday afternoon, mother of two Mary McGuire was busy filling boxes with her belongings. Having lived in Pierce Court for a total of nearly five years, her landlord had opted to sell the apartment, leaving her with nowhere to go.
While her landlord had done everything they could for Mary and her children (aged 10 and 4), even giving her an extra two months in the property to try and secure alternative accommodation, the time had come for the family to move out.
As Mary previously outlined to this newspaper, for the past number of months she has been ringing up regarding every available property in the Wexford town area to no avail. She says that once landlords and letting agents hear that she is on the council's Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), they no longer want to know and they won't rent to her, despite the fact that she can offer excellent references going back five and a half years.
While Mary was offered emergency accommodation in a B&B in Courtown, she says as she doesn't drive, this is infeasible for her and she wouldn't be able to get her two young boys to school in Wexford town.
'From tomorrow, we're officially homeless,' an exasperated Mary said on Thursday.
'They've offered me emergency accommodation in Gorey and there were talks of New Ross, but I don't drive so there's no way I could pull my kids out of school. Basically, the attitude I got was that if I don't want to be homeless, I'll take it.'
With no other options available, Mary will now move back to her parents' home in Wolfe Tone - a house already occupied by her Mam, Dad, sister, nephew and brother. With her and her two boys now arriving on the doorstep, things are set to become very cramped.
'It's a last resort,' she said. 'I don't want to go back to my parents. I have my own family and I want to do my own thing. I know it's going to be too cramped and it won't work, but for the moment, I've no choice. The worst part is that I know that when I move home, the council will just forget about me and I won't be a priority.'
The entire situation is having a profound impact on Mary and her kids.
'It's just not fair,' she said. 'I've always paid my bills and I can provide excellent references, but there's just nowhere to rent in this town that will take HAP. I have my ten year-old coming home from school and asking where we're going to live and what we're going to do. He shouldn't be worried about things like that.'
'One thing I will say is that it's HAP that's making people homeless,' she said.
'Landlords or letting agents just will not accept it. They say they'll come back to you and they never do. They say there's a big demand for houses in Wexford. The prices of rent that people are being charged is ridiculous as well and this is what's making people homeless.'
'The council need to sort this problem out now, not two or three years down the line, because it's only going to get worse. There are plenty of people in the same situation as me.'