A Clonmel couple ‘slept rough’ outside Clonmel Borough Council to highlight the lack of emergency accommodation.
David Sheehan and his girlfriend spent Tuesday night in sleeping bags outside the local authority offices when they say were refused emergency B and B accommodation. The couple became homeless last week after David’s girlfriend lost her job and they could no longer pay the €160 a week rent on the small home they shared. They are now working with the Borough Council Homeless Action Team to try and find a place to live. They were initially granted one night’s emergency B and B accommodation. David says the Borough Council did offer temporary accommodation in a one-bedroom apartment in Ardfinnan but says it is unsuitable for a couple, and that he was afraid it would be “left there” - again unsuitable because he has shared custody of his son. Transport would be a problem because the couple’s only car belongs to his girlfriend and when her insurance runs out next week she can’t afford to renew it. Both their families live in the town. When they refused to go to Ardfinnan the couple were offered separate homeless hostel accommodation - David in Waterford and his girlfriend in Limerick, there is no hostel in Clonmel. David has the support of his family but says that as a 29 year old man he can’t move back to a family home already full with his six siblings. Following the couple’s protest last Tuesday they were granted B and B accommodation. However that can only be granted just before office closing hours each day and then the couple must find an available B and B themselves. All their belongings are in their car. “We’re living out of bags,” David said.
Clonmel Town Clerk Ger Walsh explained that the Borough Council can be approached by up to eight cases of emergency homelessness a day. A housing officer has met with David and his girlfriend who had separate housing applications submitted but they will now proceed as a joint application, which will be dealt with in the best manner possible. A ‘letter of housing need’ has been issued which qualifies them for rent supplement.