A woman whose baby is expected on the same day her family is evicted says she has nowhere else to go.
ate O’Keeffe and partner Stephen Bermingham were given notice just a few months after finding out she was expecting their third child.
The family, who have been on the social housing waiting list with Wicklow County Council since 2014, must vacate their rental home by Tuesday – the same day she is due to give birth at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin’s Holles Street.
They have been renting a four-bedroom house in Rathnew, County Wicklow for three years for £1,600 a month. The family receives housing benefit and had signed a four-year agreement on the property.
However, the landlord now wants to sell the house. The couple received a cancellation on September 30 last year and could not find another accommodation within their budget.
Mr. Bermingham works full-time at the NCT and Mrs. O’Keeffe had to give up her job to babysit their 14-month-old daughter Éabha. Their eldest daughter Mia is 11.
Ms O’Keeffe said she was trying to remain calm for the baby’s health but described the situation as “extremely scary”.
“We have no idea where we will end up or what we will do. We’ve had doctors’ letters and so we’ve been recommending and begging the council to try and get us sorted out before it causes problems during the pregnancy, but even trying to talk to someone on the council was a nightmare,” she said.
A search on Daft.ie for four bed houses in Wicklow shows only three available. The cheapest is € 2,350 per month. The other two are priced at €3,120 and €3,450.
“There is nothing there and everything available is too expensive. Even for a three-person you are around € 2,500.
“We have lived in the house for three years. We lived here without the HAP for the first year and then we signed up for the HAP because of the birth of my other daughter. It was impossible for my partner to pay the rent alone.
“My other daughter also goes to school nearby and all her friends are here.
“It’s an Absolute Nightmare”
In recent weeks, Wicklow County Council has been out of capacity at its emergency shelter.
Mrs. O’Keeffe and her partner, who are in their mid-thirties, cannot move in with relatives because their siblings live at home.
“Our families feel so helpless,” she said.
“They’re already overcrowded and there’s not much they can do. They can’t take us and three kids.
“The government is not helping at the moment. We take in more refugees when there is no accommodation available and more people become homeless.
“They have decided not to extend the eviction ban and have not instituted anything else, it is very frustrating.
“We can’t watch the news anymore because it’s so shocking.
“We have been on the housing list for nine years. I know people who have insisted on that for 16 years and are still waiting.
“The politicians sit in their room and have these arguments, but they have no idea what is happening in the real world.
“If you are looking for a mortgage, the banks don’t even want to know you.
“It’s one roadblock after another”
“My partner has been working full-time since he was 15. It’s not fair to be in this situation.”
Wicklow County Council said it would not comment on individual cases. It said there is “limited emergency accommodation and every effort is being made to increase capacity”.