‘I am trying to cope and keep myself strong for the kids’

Kayley Joyce has been ‘in an out of homelessness’ all of her life

Kayley Joyce: ‘The one thing I didn’t want for my kids was to be homeless.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Kayley Joyce: ‘The one thing I didn’t want for my kids was to be homeless.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Kayley Joyce, a 21-year-old mother of two, has been “in and out of homelessness” all her life. She, Jayden (3) and Aaliyah (1) are now being accommodated in a B&B in Dublin’s Irishtown.

“Back as far as I can remember we were homeless – me, my two sisters and two brothers, and mam and dad. We were years in a hostel for homeless families in Blackrock. ”

She says one year her family were to be housed. However, this was withdrawn because the council believed her parents were involved in anti-social behaviour, “which they never were,” says Kayley.

They spent some time in rural Cork, but returned as they felt isolated and missed Dublin.

“We ended up then in my aunt’s house in Sallynoggin, when I was 11 or 12 and we’ve been there since.

“There were 10 of us in a two-bedroom house. My two brothers have slept on the couches since we moved there. They’re 24 and 19. My aunt and sister sleep in one bedroom. In the other, before I left, there was my mam, me and the two kids, and my sister and her child.

“It was very stressful. I ended up a few months back having to call an ambulance. I collapsed on the floor, I had this awful pain in my chest and the room was spinning. I thought I was having a heart attack. When I was in the hospital the doctor told me it was anxiety, that I was having a panic attack. He said it was my housing situation.”

Housing waiting list

She presented at homeless services at the end of September and was told to “self-accommodate” – ie find a B&B which would accept homeless services payments. “I eventually found a place for two nights.”

She found a room in a hotel in Dún Laoghaire for one night but was then told it was “fully booked until after Christmas”. She found a B&B in Gardiner Street, where she says there was “obvious drug use”.

She then went to the office of People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, where staff “called hundreds of places” before securing her one month in her current B&B.

Through all this she has missed college – she is studying hairdressing and beauty at Sallynoggin College of Further Education – as she searches for accommodation. Having spent three years on the Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown housing waiting list, Kayley holds little prospect of being housed in the short term.

Her children’s father helps, she says, but is also living at home with his parents.

“I am trying to cope and keep myself strong for the kids. At night it is hard. I’m crying in bed wishing things could get better,” she says.

“The one thing I didn’t want for my kids was to be homeless. I always felt it, as a child, that I was different. I just felt poor and that we couldn’t have friends over, or sleepovers. All I ever wanted as a child was a house. I’m doing everything I can to make things better, but I feel so helpless.”