Homelessness: ‘I never thought it could happen to me, and so fast’

Baker Ian Cleary (42) found himself on the streets when his rented flat was repossessed

 Ian Cleary: “I’m looking for a two-bedroom place, so I can start taking my daughter again at the weekends.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Ian Cleary: “I’m looking for a two-bedroom place, so I can start taking my daughter again at the weekends.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Ian Cleary (42), from the Old Bawn in Tallaght, has been staying in one of last winter’s Cold Weather beds since May.

He goes to work as a baker, from his emergency homeless accommodation each day.

“The place I was renting, the landlord lost the place to the bank. I couldn’t find anywhere else I could afford.”

He registered as homeless with South Dublin County Council, who advised him to call the homeless freephone number (1800-707707).

“I had to ring every day at 2pm. They’d say call back at 4.30 and then again, ‘Call back at 10.30’. It was very frustrating having to call back over and over.”

His working hours, from 2pm to 10pm, made calling difficult so he sometimes slept rough. “I ended up in doorways on Grafton Street. I was in shock this had happened to me, had never been homeless before. I kept getting woken up by people asking, ‘Are you looking?’ – asking basically if I wanted drugs.”

Since the end of August he has been in a hostel operated by the Depaul Trust which was opened last winter. The charity had anticipated closing it at the end of March but, given the number of homeless people in the city, it was necessary to keep it open.

Ian will have a bed kept for him for six months and a Depaul key-worker is assigned to him. “I share a room with another lad – he’s quiet, trying to sort himself out too. I have to be out of the hostel at 8.45 each morning. It’s not open during the day. I get a bowl of cereal, cup of tea, and head for work in the afternoon.

“I make the soda bread and the GI bread in the bakery. Sometimes I bring loaves and apple tarts back to the hostel. They like that,” he says, laughing.

He has been approved for the Housing Assistance Payment, which is replacing rent supplement, and people may work while in receipt of it.

“I’m on minimum wage so it’s not easy but I’m looking for a two-bedroom place, so I can start taking my daughter again at the weekends. I haven’t been able to do that, which has been the worst thing about this. She’s six.

“Being homeless has been humbling. I never thought it could happen to me, and so fast.”