Housing list case study: ‘There are four of them in one room’

Joanne Bonnell: Appeals to have her original position on waiting list reinstated rejected

 Joanne Bonnell with her children Adam (16), Jake (9), Kyle (6) and Corey (1) , in their accommodation at Ballymun, Co Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Joanne Bonnell with her children Adam (16), Jake (9), Kyle (6) and Corey (1) , in their accommodation at Ballymun, Co Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Joanne Bonnell lives in a two-bedroom rented house in Ballymun with her four sons, aged from one to 16. She applied to Dublin City Council for housing in 2000, but is only “officially” on the waiting list since 2009.

“It’s happened twice to me that I’ve been taken off the list. I first applied in 2000, I was living with my mam at the time, but since 2002 I’ve been living in apartments on rent allowance.”

She periodically checked her position on the waiting list with the local council offices in Ballymun, but in the early years had no great expectation of being housed.

“I knew I was at a certain place on the list, but I was young and I only had one child so I knew it was going to be years.”

It was 2004 when she discovered she was no longer on the list.

“I went over one day to check but I was just told I wasn’t on the list. I had received letters from them and I had replied to them, they just said they never got the letters and that was that. I had lost my place and I had to reapply.”

Appeals to have her original position on the list reinstated were rejected. It was around this time that another problem arose.

“The apartments we were living in had the postboxes in a communal area on the ground floor and lads were breaking in looking for social welfare cheques. They’d break open the postbox, take everything and just rip up and throw away the things they didn’t want.”

Vandalism continued

She reported the matter to An Post, as her children’s birth certificates and passports had been stolen from the postbox, but she said the vandalism continued.

“In 2007, I went back over to see where I was on the list and they said I wasn’t on the list. They said they’d sent letters. I explained about the postbox, I even brought them photos but their attitude was that it wasn’t their problem.

“I spent two years crying in the Corporation trying to get them to put me back at the same place on the list, trying to get them to see that it wasn’t my fault, but in the end I had to give up and, begrudgingly, in 2009 I reapplied to go on the housing list.”

Ms Bonnell and her four boys have been living in a house since 2009. She now receives the letters in relation to her need for social housing and completes and returns the forms, but she says she wants the time back that she lost.

“There are four of them sharing one room, in bunk beds, a single bed and a cot. My oldest is trying to study for his Junior Cert, he has sports and academic scholarships, but there is no room here. After 16 years, we just feel really hard done by.”

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