Man downsizes home to help young family

‘You’d think I was Santa Claus... I just think it was the decent thing to do’

Paddy Phelan, a 55-year-old former member of the Defence Forces vacated his three bedroom home to make it available for a family with young children. Photograph: iStock

Paddy Phelan, a 55-year-old former member of the Defence Forces vacated his three bedroom home to make it available for a family with young children. Photograph: iStock

 

A 55-year-old former member of the Defence Forces has spoken of his decision to vacate his three bedroom home to make it available for a family with young children.

Paddy Phelan took the decision late last year and moved into his new home, a maisonette in Abbeyleix last month.

While the move was only half a mile it has made a difference to the young family now living in his former home.

“I was up at the house with the family. They invited me up when they moved in. It was great to see how happy the children where with the bedrooms,” he told his local radio station Midlands 103.

“You’d think I was Santa Claus the way the children were.”

Mr Phelan moved into the three bedroomed home, which was provided by housing charity Respond, in 2006. The separated father of four said it was a godsend at the time for when his daughters were staying with him.

Now with all four of his daughters over the age of 21, he felt it was time to pass on the good luck. “It was very handy, it was a blessing for me. I wanted to give the same blessing to someone else.”

He said that when he handed the house back to Respond “it was spotless. You’ve got to take pride in your home.” Within weeks it was reallocated to a family with two young children.

His new home was provided by Laois Co. Council. “The people I spoke to said it was unheard of for someone to do this. But I just think it was the decent thing to do.

“I contacted my daughters and told them what I was thinking of doing, they were happy for me to do it.”

Mr Phelan spent 24 years in the Defence Forces serving in the Lebanon, Kosovo, Liberia and Chad. He was based in the military barracks in Kilkenny.

“It is shocking when you see so many houses around the country boarded up especially when there are people who need homes.”

Mr Phelan’s move comes as plans are under way for financial incentives to be offered to encourage older people to downsize from larger family houses to retirement home-type communities, under new Government plans, to be published in a report on Wednesday.

Incentives being considered include allowances around stamp duty and capital gains tax rules, according to Minister of State with responsibility for older people Jim Daly.

The plans would see the development of “age-friendly” housing estates for older people, where they would live in own-door accommodation. The communities would be supported with services, such as primary care and nursing staff, and on-call care attendants.

The report to be launched on Wednesday was drawn up by the Department of Health and the Department of Housing.