A woman who works full time for a multinational company says she is now living in a cow shed because of the housing crisis, describing herself as “too poor to live” but “too rich to die”.
The 56-year-old woman who gave her name as Beata told the Neil Prendeville show on Cork’s Red FM that she was taking shelter in a structure several hundred years old in north Cork.
“No human being ever lived in it. And yet I found myself forced to live in it. The alternative would have been to live under one of our lovely bridges here or in a ditch or something. I have a corrugate roof. There is no insulation there. It was never meant for living in.”
Beata said that she found herself “eye-balling” the shed last May while she in the process of being evicted out of a mobile home she was renting on a plot of land after her landlord saw his property repossessed.
“I had a mobile [home] connected to water and electricity. It was an old mobile that was gifted to me. It was okay. It was fine compared to what I have now.
“And then I was looking around, looking for options and looking for my pets to be accommodated somewhere and a friend of mine offered to take my dogs for me. So I went to her place with my dogs and while we were sitting outside and having a chat I started looking at her shed from the outside.
“I asked her what the story was with the shed. She said there was electricity but no running water. There was no heating. That it might do for a few weeks during the summer. This was in May. I am still in it.”
Beata says that in the mornings there is ice on the inside of the corrugated roof.
“It is minus five degrees in there if it is minus five degrees out there... The crazy thing is that I work full time. And yet I cannot afford to rent a place anywhere.”
Beata said she applied for social housing but found herself over the income threshold by a couple of hundred euro. She has now applied for housing with the local authority because the income threshold is higher.
“I was told when I handed in my application in May that all my documents were in order. It took them four months to get back to me. And now they are demanding my divorce settlement. And, as its in German, I have to get it translated...
“There is nothing going to happen before Christmas. ‘Too poor to live – too rich to die’ is something my [German] grandmother used to always say.
“I can barely scrape by to pay for petrol in and out of work and to put food on the table for myself. I can’t run a heater because the electricity is too dodgy... The electricity is good enough for me to have television and a lamp. I have a camping toilet and a camping cooker.”
Beata, who came to Ireland as a teenager, said that she was hoping to find somewhere affordable which would allow her to keep her pets.
“I am working. I am trying. But yet I feel I got punched for it.”
Towards the end of the interview, a text was received from a person from north Cork who offered Beata the use of his land for a mobile home. She said she was “overwhelmed” with gratitude.
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