#Budget18 Case Study: Government still ignoring problem, says lone parent who beat homelessness

A lone parent who beat Ireland's mounting homelessness crisis and launched her university education has claimed the Government is still ignoring the problem.

Erica Fleming, 32, is three weeks into an English degree at Trinity College in Dublin after spending almost two years in emergency housing because she was unable to meet rocketing rent demands.

A total of €1.8bn was allocated for housing as part of Tuesday's budget.

Ms Fleming said: "Our own Government is ignoring how critical the situation is, so the EU should step in and say enough is enough.

"People are being subjected to intense traumas and it needs to stop."

Next year, 3,800 new social homes will be built and there will be an increase to the housing assistance scheme by €149m, Budget 2018 said.

An extra €500m for direct building programme will see 3,000 additional new-build social houses by 2021.

Leading support charity Focus Ireland said more than 3,000 children are without shelter and warned red tape surrounding services should be slashed.

It served up 80 cent hot lunches at one of its Dublin city centre properties to people from all backgrounds in need.

The young mixed with elderly men wearing open-necked shirts and blazers. Recent immigrants queued up alongside Dublin born and bred.

Other support run by voluntary groups include a soup kitchen near the famous General Post Office in the heart of Dublin's O'Connell Street.

Among its users is former master baker Darren McGrath, 42, from Smithfield, whose speciality was once doughnuts.

Now he loiters outside convenience stores with a paper cup for donations; with winter approaching he will need a second sleeping bag if he is to survive plummeting night time temperatures.

He said: "Once the cold gets into your bones you cannot get it out of you."

The Government was doing nothing and there were only a few places to go for meals, he claimed.

"If you miss it you are left ... you are literally walking around bleeding starving all day."

"You ring up late for your hostel, there is no bed, they tell you come up and get a sleeping bag."

The state helps fund a range of organisations working to tackle the problem.

Ms Fleming and her daughter Emily, from north Dublin, were homeless for 22 months, living in temporary accommodation miles from her child's school, until April, when she found a permanent home.

She said there were always going to be barriers for people coming from disadvantaged areas.

"It is just about trying to overcome the barriers.

"I know it is difficult but you can do it, at the end of the day, if I have done it anyone else in the same situation can do it too."


 

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