Family of five - living in a car

The mother of an Inishowen family of five says they sometimes sleep in a car and at others sleep in spare rooms provided by kindly relatives and friends after they found themselves homeless.

The family who recently contacted the ‘Journal’ said they were ‘desperate’ but appealed their names not be used publicly to spare her children the embarrassment of being ‘shamed in front of their friends’.

The mother, Mart* told the ‘Journal’: “We are in a truly dire situation. We were in a house in Buncrana for five and half years and had asked Donegal Co. Council for a transfer for three and half years.

“Our problem is that I have a child with a mental health issue, another child who the medical people believe is probably autistic and we were having problems with neigbours. It was just one of those things.

“However, the stress of it all was getting to me - I have bi polar disorder - and I thought the only solution was to move out.

Mary claims she was told by a Housing officer that if she gave up her council house and rented privately for a time she would get a ‘letter of support’ from the official when she looked for a council house.

So they rented a house in Muff at 150 euro a week and this was fine until the family rent allowances was cut by 136 euro - to 14 euro a week.

“We don’t have that kind of money; we are social welfare.”

Mary, who is originally from Derry and her husband from Inishowen, said she has any number of letters from social workers to support her claims.

But she said that cut little ice with Donegal Co. Council: “The told us they had no money and that our problem was not their problem.

I told them a Housing Officer had told me to rent privately. And they said: “Where’s your proof?

“They are right we have no proof; we were told this, we didn’t get it in writing. But we are not stupid - we wouldn’t have give up our home had we not accepted the advice given as being legitimate.”

She added: “The children are not eating or sleeping. They are putting on weight because we are living on takeaways.

She concluded: “We are desperate by I feel we are being laughed at.I never thought this could happen.”

Donegal Co. Council in a statement said they could not comment on individual cases but added: “From a general perspective when a vacant property becomes available in a particular area, all approved applicants for social housing support who have expressed an interest in being housed in that area are considered, and the property is allocated to the household deemed most in need,