A Derry man said he has been left shocked after being told to vacate the home he shared with his mother just days after her death.
Paul McGill (47) said he moved from his rented home in Burt, County Donegal to New Street in Pennyburn to be a live-in carer for his mother Ann McGilloway two years ago.
Mrs McGilloway needed mobility assistance, and a lift had been installed at her address which took her from her living room to her bedroom. She died last month after a short illness at the age of 70.
Speaking after his mother’s Month’s Mind Mass this week, Mr McGill said that he has now received several letters, and a hand-delivered note from Apex Housing Association telling him he had to hand back the keys.
He said: “I came here as a sort of carer for my mum and I looked after her. Of course I did, that is your duty really, isn’t it? She had been sort of bed bound a lot of the time.
“Mother’s dead a month now. She died after a short illness, at Altnagelvin. She had a rash on her back and she was feeling very weak. We contacted the doctor, the doctor took bloods and he said ‘Ann it’s time for you to go to hospital’. She was in hospital on the Friday and she was dead on the Sunday. It just happened. It just came out of the blue. They reckoned it was a virus.
“In the event of her death I went to Apex and said: ‘look, here’s the death certificate and I have got paperwork here to prove I have been living here’. The fact that I wasn’t on the tenancy is a stumbling block. I presented a case to them that I have been here at least two years, and I had the documentation to prove it but it wasn’t enough for Apex.”
Mr McGill claimed: “I just found Apex very cruel in their ways. They’re very cold. They’re very corporate. If it had’ve been the Housing Executive, the paperwork I presented would have been enough. Apex don’t seem to care, they just want you out. They don’t give you time to grieve.”
He added that he fully understood that the house is ideal for a disabled person or family because of the lift and that he might have to move. “I said to them: ‘I am prepared to give up the place but at least offer me something else’.”
He added that he was aware of several other bereaved relatives in social housing in Derry facing similar issues recently.
A spokesman for Apex Housing responded: “Apex is currently reviewing this case in line with the rules of the Housing Selection Scheme.
“While we cannot comment publicly on individual circumstances, we have arranged to meet with the individual concerned and their representative on 20th March [today].”
Housing Rights Service in Belfast have confirmed that they are looking into the case.