Mother and her young chil­dren fac­ing hous­ing night­mare

BIG RENT BILL FROM OUT OF THE BLUE LANDS MOTHER IN ANX­IOUS WAIT OVER HOUS­ING

New Ross Standard - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVID LOOBY

A NEW ROSS mother-of-two doesn’t know where her fam­ily will be spend­ing Christ­mas week hav­ing been sent a large bill for be­ing ac­com­mo­dated in a B&B in the New Ross area, by Wex­ford County Coun­cil.

Mon­ica O’Con­nor, 22, from Ir­ish­town, has been liv­ing in the B&B with her two-year-old son and four-year-old daugh­ter for three months, where they share a dou­ble bed.

Mon­ica and her chil­dren were liv­ing in a three-bed­room house in New Ross up un­til Au­gust when she was in­formed the landlord was putting the house up for sale. She was ac­com­mo­dated in a B&B in New Ross that month and says she was told she wouldn’t have to pay rent – only for a €490 rent bill to ar­rive ‘out of the blue’ last week.

‘I was told in Au­gust that I wouldn’t have to pay. They took into ac­count that I have to feed my­self and my two chil­dren. I feel like I am af­ter let­ting my two chil­dren down big time. I don’t know how I’m cop­ing. I’m un­der a lot of stress and am lit­er­ally at my wits’ end.’

A New Ross mother-of-two is fac­ing an un­cer­tain fu­ture this Christ­mas hav­ing been sent a large bill for be­ing ac­com­mo­dated in a B&B in the New Ross area, by Wex­ford County Coun­cil.

Mon­ica O’Con­nor, 22, from Ir­ish­town, has been liv­ing in a B&B in the area with her 2-year-old son and 4 year-old daugh­ter for three months, but doesn’t know where she will be liv­ing at Christ­mas as she says she can’t af­ford to pay the €500 in back rent.

Mon­ica and her chil­dren were liv­ing in a three-bed­room house in New Ross up un­til Au­gust when she was in­formed the landlord was putting the house up for sale.

‘I was there for two-and-a-half years. When I found out she was sell­ing I went straight down to The Tholsel and told the of­fi­cer that I had to be out for Au­gust 10 and he told me to find pri­vate rental ac­com­mo­da­tion, but there was none.’

Mon­ica kept go­ing down to speak with the of­fi­cial ev­ery Tues­day and was told that both she and her chil­dren could be ac­com­mo­dated in Wex­ford Women’s Refuge.

‘I was then told I had to go to Cour­town. This was a fort­night be­fore my daugh­ter was due to start school in New Ross. I told him I couldn’t go to Cour­town as my son has a con­di­tion which re­quires him to see a phys­io­ther­a­pist for his legs and he has bad asthma which re­quires him to at­tend Water­ford re­gional hos­pi­tal ev­ery cou­ple of weeks.’

Mon­ica doesn’t drive and would have had to spend two hours trav­el­ling each way to the ap­point­ments on a bus. ‘I gave them hos­pi­tal and doc­tors’ let­ters. They said they had no room in a B&B in New Ross so I stayed in Cour­town for two and a half weeks.’

On her own ini­tia­tive Mon­ica rang the B&B and was told there was a room avail­able. She met with two hous­ing of­fi­cers two days later. ‘When I went in they said there were no rooms in the B&B. They told me they only had the room in Cour­town which I was only sup­posed to be in for one week. I was stuck in that B&B room with the chil­dren. I had no friends or fam­ily nearby. I had to drag the pram up two flights of stairs, while car­ry­ing my son who was 22-months-old at the time. He wasn’t walk­ing be­cause of his con­di­tion.’

Mon­ica was told only spe­cific rooms in B&Bs are al­lo­cated to coun­cil ten­ants. Hav­ing threat­ened to go pub­lic with her story Mon­ica was in­formed by text mes­sage that evening that she was go­ing to be ac­com­mo­dated in the B&B closer to her home­town. ‘ That was the end of Au­gust. I’m in the B&B three months now. I have a dou­ble bed which I share with my chil­dren. It’s up a stairs. There is no bath and the chil­dren are at a stage where they don’t like show­ers.’

Mon­ica isn’t al­lowed to have fam­ily or friends come in and mind her young chil­dren, so she has to bring them ev­ery­where with her. There is no kitchen for guests so she is feed­ing her chil­dren Pot Noo­dles and from take-aways. ‘My son is catch­ing ev­ery­thing as there are so many peo­ple liv­ing in the build­ing. I don’t know how I’m cop­ing. I’m un­der a lot of stress and am lit­er­ally at my wits’ end.’

A €490 rent bill came ‘out of the blue’ – which Mon­ica was told last week that she has to pay or face leav­ing the B&B – was the last straw. ‘I was told in Au­gust that I wouldn’t have to pay any rent be­cause I had two small chil­dren. They asked me my in­come and what I spent on bills. They took into ac­count that I have to feed my­self and my two chil­dren. I feel like I am af­ter let­ting my two chil­dren down big time. They had ev­ery­thing and it was all lit­er­ally taken away. They had a gar­den, a tram­po­line and swings. They had the life. Now they’ve a TV in a lit­tle room with a box of toys in the corner.’

Mon­ica said she doesn’t want to rely on oth­ers and wants to be able to care for her chil­dren in­de­pen­dently. ‘We rely on taxis. I have fam­ily but I don’t want to rely on them too much.’

She is meet­ing with coun­cil of­fi­cials to­day (Tues­day) to try to work out a pay­ment plan. ‘I can’t af­ford it. I wasn’t ex­pect­ing it at all. Now I’m told I have to pay rent. The coun­cil are say­ing they never told me I didn’t have to pay rent. I just don’t know how this is go­ing to go.’

Peo­ple Be­fore Profit rep­re­sen­ta­tive Su­san Breen said the fam­ily are left with the prospect of be­ing made home­less for Christ­mas.‘It’s a night­mare. They put her in a B&B and now they are spring­ing this mas­sive bill on her.’

A Wex­ford County Coun­cil spokesper­son said: ‘When clients are placed in emer­gency B&B ac­com­mo­da­tion the fol­low­ing charges will ap­ply: (€5 per night for sin­gle per­son- €35 per week; €7 per night for two per­sons - €50 per week). There is no charge for chil­dren. A con­ces­sion may be con­sid­ered if the client is in­cur­ring ex­tra­or­di­nary or ex­cep­tional ex­penses by rea­son of his or her place­ment.’

Mon­ica O’ Con­nor with her two chil­dren aged 4 and 2.

Mum-of-two Mon­ica O’Con­nor in her B&B room.

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