A 65-year-old describes an eight-month struggle to find a Dublin home

‘I was told to come back in two to three days with a small suitcase’

When Joe Kelly received the notice for eviction from his basement apartment in Ranelagh, Dublin, late last year he knew finding a new home would be a challenge. Yet the 65-year-old never imagined a few months later he would be forced to register as homeless and find himself preparing to pack a lifetime of belongings into a small suitcase.

Mr Kelly had been living in his apartment for 8½ years when he received word that his landlord had decided to redevelop the property into a family home. He contacted Dublin City Council, where he had registered on the housing list nine years previous, only to discover his name had been removed from the list.

“They said they’d sent me a letter which I never received. I didn’t know what to do. It was a revelation, I was shocked.”

My Kelly contacted his local TD’s office – that of Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy – seeking advice on how to reinstate his name on the list. Meanwhile, he began visiting the local laundrette to use a computer to access the internet and trawl through housing sites.


“I was going down through the lists and phoning and getting very little response,” the former carpenter said. “I wasn’t stuck on one locality. I’m a Dubliner, I’d live anywhere in Dublin. I was shocked at the prices.”

He said that on a number of occasions he was immediately discounted by estate agents and landlords as soon as he mentioned he was a recipient of the housing assistance payment (HAP).

“I think there is a bias against HAPs and then the fact of my age. They were looking at me like ‘who is this guy’?”


Mr Kelly received what he describes as the “first ray of light” when he was contacted by the Alone charity for older people asking that he fill out an application for housing.

With his eviction date of August 1st fast approaching, he was becoming increasingly anxious, and in early July he decided to register as homeless.

"I had heard nothing from Alone, so I went to the HAP office on Parkgate Street, and asked to be declared as homeless. I don't even want to start describing what it was like there. It was a pretty sad place, it really got to me."

He says the office worker initially expressed surprise when he arrived in the centre.

“He said ‘we don’t really deal with people like you’. They told me the best thing I could do was come back in a couple of days and they’d find me a hostel. I was told to come back in two to three days with a small suitcase. That was really scary.”

A few days later Mr Kelly received word from Alone that he had been selected to move into one of 11 refurbished apartments for elderly people in Dublin 8. He this week signed the lease for his new home.

‘Really hard’

"Nine years ago it might have been the Celtic Tiger but you could still find a place to rent. Now it's completely different, it's really hard."

He believes there are many older people like him facing a housing crisis but unsure where to turn.

“We’re not aware of this problem, it’s a hidden thing. There’s old people living out there, and they’re living in horrible situations. We’re a very vulnerable group.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast