Defence Forces family left homeless by local landlords

‘My partner works full-time, I work part-time, and we’re homeless? It’s horrific’

The corporal has worked with the Defence Forces for 17 years and earns €519 per week. Photograph: Alan Betson

The corporal has worked with the Defence Forces for 17 years and earns €519 per week. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The family of a corporal in the Irish Defence Forces say they have registered as homeless after being refused rented accommodation in the Newbridge, Co Kildare area by landlords unwilling to accept the Housing Assistance Payment (Hap).

The Wives & Partners of the Defence Forces group (WPDF) called on the Taoiseach to “evaluate and critique” the payment as landlords near where the corporal works in the Curragh were refusing to rent to the family.

The corporal, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has worked with the Defence Forces for 17 years and is due to be posted overseas in the autumn. He earns €519 a week and his partner works part-time.

The family say their former landlord was “more than helpful and reasonable” when he got in touch last January to inform them he was selling the home. They were given until July 31st to find a new place to live and were then given another month when they failed to find alternative housing in Newbridge.

The corporal’s partner said the family needed to find a home close to the local GP who provides care for their daughter who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Apert syndrome.

“If my daughter didn’t have Apert syndrome, it wouldn’t bother me where we live but she goes to school in the Curragh and has a fantastic SNA [special needs assistant] there,” she said. “They’re aware of all her medical problems. My partner is in the Curragh camp and is only five minutes away if anything happens to her.

“My eldest is aware of what’s going on and it’s dragging me down, it’s breaking my heart. My partner works full-time, I work part-time, and we’re homeless? It’s absolutely horrific.”

The corporal said he was “worried sick” about the situation. “I work damn hard and my family doesn’t deserve to be homeless. I don’t know what to do or where to turn to.”

Housing assistance

The WPDF says the“poor wages” in the Defence Forces meant the family was eligible for the Housing Assistance Payment. With the additional Hap support the family can afford to pay €1,200 a month in rent.

According to the corporal’s partner, one landlord refused to rent to the family because of a negative experience with previous tenants on rent support.

“He said if there’s one glitch in the payment, it takes so long to get the payment set back up again.”

The Hap scheme was introduced with the objective of easing the housing crisis and as a means of replacing rent supplement allowance. Unlike rent supplement, recipients can remain on the scheme even if they have full-time employment.

The WPDF says it has contacted the Minister of Defence suggesting the family stay temporarily in one of the unoccupied houses in the Curragh Camp.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Defence said the vacant properties were in “an extremely poor state of repair and some are bordering on dereliction”. She said the department could assist families in applying for social housing and housing assistance and that Defence Forces personnel support services were also available if required.