Man sleeps in tent as Focus Ireland warn over rent costs
A Sligo based man claims he has to sleep in a tent as he cannot find suitable accommodation after his rented property was damaged in a house fire.
Thomas Walsh, originally from Belfast, has been living in Sligo for six years.
Having become homeless following the breakdown of a relationship in 2008, he was living in homeless hostels, before coming to Sligo to stay in Finisklin.
He then moved into a house in Rathbraughan and was left devastated when the house was damaged in a fire almost three weeks ago.
And now, unable to find somewhere suitable to live for both him and his dog, Thomas says he has been forced to stay in a tent until he finds somewhere suitable.
“I was woken up in the middle of the night by people banging on the door. I had no idea what was happening, and then I realised the house was on fire,” he told The Sligo Champion.
Having housed his two cats, Thomas then handed his dog, Freddie, over to the ISPCA rescue team, as without a home he could not look after his dog.
But he then received a call from the shelter saying that the dog was uncontrollable.
“He was scared and afraid he would be abandoned,” he explained.
Although offered a place in the homeless shelter, he says he did not want to be in that environment.
“I would rather be in a tourist hostel, which I would have to pay for myself. I’m off the drink and I don’t want to be in that environment in the homeless shelter,” he added.
Thomas says he has asked numerous people to take his dog until he finds somewhere suitable, but so far his search has been fruitless. Unable to bring Freddie into the hostel with him, and with no- one to take him, Thomas says he has no choice but to sleep in a tent.
Meanwhile, the soaring cost of rent as seen in the Daft. ie report coupled with a shortage of housing is a major concern for Focus Ireland Manager Mary Jameson, with Sligo children severely impacted.
Focus Ireland warned that the nearly 3,000 children who are homeless nationally are becoming the invisible victims of the rental crisis as many have been forced into homelessness due to rising rents or through buy- to- let properties being repossessed.
Focus Ireland Sligo Manager Mary Jameson said: “As September approaches up to 1,800 children are preparing to return to primary or secondary school and many are from families forced into homelessness by the rental crisis.
“This situation is really impacting on them as children and on their education. It is fundamentally wrong this is being allowed to happen.”
Focus Ireland said the Government review of Rebuilding Ireland must include immediate action to ease the rental crisis and to get more vacant homes back into the housing stock.
Ms. Jameson said: “The review of Rebuilding Ireland must take steps to urgently increase access to housing by encouraging those with empty properties to make them available.
“This must be a carrot and stick approach such as introducing more incentives for people to rent out empty houses alongside a tax on empty properties in this time of crisis.”
The average rent in the combined town and county area stands at € 658 per month, a 11.9 % rise in just 12 months.
Sligo Focus Ireland Manager Mary Jameson is not surprised by these statistics, with the organisation at the frontline of the housing and homeless crisis.
Across one bedroom apartments, and houses ranging from two to four bedrooms, Sligo has experienced a minimum of an increase of 9.5% in the last year alone. At an average of € 714 per month to rent a four bed house locally, this figure represents an eye watering 9.8% rise in a year.
Ms. Jameson said: “There is a shortage of affordable accommodation all over the county; this is especially evident in Sligo Town itself where rental costs are more expensive than elsewhere.
“The affordability of Sligo Town accommodation is a particular concern for very many people locally, and this is a problem which our staff experience in their work with customers.
“Our frontline staff here in Sligo are still dealing with people at serious risk. There needs to a much wider range of Government actions taken to keep protect tenants and keep them in their homes.”
Focus Ireland have issued a warning over the housing crisis in Ireland. Pic: Getty-