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Mother living on mattress over a year

A local mother who has been sleeping on a mattress in the dining room of her ex-husband’s home for more than a year says she is losing hope that she will ever find a place to live after applying for 90 rental properties.

Mary (not her real name) split up with her husband last April after 20 years together. She says that they had to sell their family home when they separated as she couldn’t afford to keep up the mortgage repayments on her own.

A full-time carer for her son who has additional needs, Mary is eligible for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and is on the council housing list.

She believes that her efforts at trying to find a home in the private rental market aren’t helped by the fact that she has no references from previous landlords or employers.

She told the Westmeath Examiner this week she is struggling to remain upbeat. “The council tell me to look for my own property as there is no emergency or temporary accommodation available. I’ve applied for over 90 private rental properties with no luck.

“I am technically classed as high priority homeless for almost a year, and I was told to go back to the council again in two weeks if I don’t get anything myself. I have been to the council over 10 times and have written to TDs and contacted the minister for housing, and still nothing.”

Mary’s son is in school in the Mullingar area. She says that she is applying for houses within around half an hour from the town so that his routine is not too disrupted.

“I applied for my 93rd property this week and there is still nothing there.

“I am applying all over the place, Meath, Longford, even into Kildare.

“I have only been on the housing waiting list for a year and I know there are a lot of other people ahead of me.”

While she and her ex-husband are on reasonably good terms, she says their current situation is making it difficult for either of them to get on with their lives after their break-up.

“It’s incredibly hard and my stress levels can be very high sometimes, as it is a tense situation to be in. I am sleeping on a mattress on the floor of my ex-husband’s dining room with all my belongings around me.

“I know I am not alone and that there are hundreds and hundreds in the same situation. I have never missed a mortgage payment and have the statements to prove it.

“I just want someone to give me a break,” she said.