A couple from Jobstown in Dublin have been forced to sleep in their car for the past three weeks after their rent was increased by a massive fifty per cent.
Shane and Ciara Dwyer had been renting through an estate agent who hiked their rent from €700 a month to €1,050, which they said that just couldn’t afford.
As Ciara suffers from panic attack brought on from agoraphobia, she cannot work and her husband has essentially become her full-time carer. Because of this, the safe environment of a home is important for Ciara’s health. She has said the situation has made her: “embarrassed, depressed and just scared.”
The couple have been on the housing list since 2008, however, even this paired with a letter from the HSE in relation to Ciara’s metal health and the benefits of long-term accommodation could not help their situation: “They said there was nothing they could do until the day we became homeless. So we went down then and they said there wasn’t any emergency accommodation for couples, that there were six couples in front of us … We go down to the council every day asking them if there’s anything. They just keep saying there’s six couples ahead of us. One guy, when he heard we were sleeping in our car, said, ‘At least you’re in out of the rain.’”
For now, the couple say they are staying in their car as they cannot risk staying with family who will be in breach of their council home contracts if they overcrowd: “They have kids. They can’t risk being put homeless too,” Ciara says.
At night, Shane says they keep milk under the car to keep in cold, having a quick breakfast in the car every morning before heading off to a drop-in centre of family to wash and clean their clothes. From there, they head down to the council to see of anything is available for them yet.