€400 rent hike forces family out of home

Mother and three children to protest outside Joan Burton’s office

Gwen Connell with her three children, Lauren (17), who is  studying for her Leaving Certificate, Katie (10) and Lana (6)

Gwen Connell with her three children, Lauren (17), who is studying for her Leaving Certificate, Katie (10) and Lana (6)

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 01:00



A rent hike of €400 a month forced Gwen Connell and her three children out of their Dublin 15 home two weeks ago.

“A couple of weeks before Christmas an estate agent turned up at the door and said the landlord had sent him around. I thought the landlord was going to sell the house, so I rang him and he said the rent would be going up from €900 to €1,300.”

The maximum rent allowance available to the family was €950. With no other income, they had to leave the house where they’d lived for three years and try to find somewhere more affordable.

“It has been a nightmare. Nowhere was accepting rent allowance and even a two-bed place is costing €1,200.” Unable to find a place, she contacted her local authority Fingal, where she is about 1,000th on the housing waiting list. “The council said to get back to them when I was homeless. I explained that I had three children, but they said their hands were tied, and there was nothing they could do until I was actually homeless.”


Unwillingness
Ms Connell’s unwillingness to declare herself homeless is due to the effect she feels it could have on her daughters. “I don’t want to bring the girls into an unknown environment. I know the most likely thing to happen is that we’d be put into a hotel or bed and breakfast and I don’t know what other people would be there, but also I don’t want the kids to be labelled as homeless.”

The only solution, she felt, was to split her family. Ms Connell is staying with a friend. Her eldest daughter, Lauren who is 17 and studying for her Leaving Certificate, is staying with her grandmother; Katie (10) and Lana (6) are staying with their father.

The family plans on staging a protest outside Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton’s Dublin’s office on Wednesday to highlight their plight.