“Where I’m living now, if you got a stone and threw it up the field, that’s where the house I built was. And then the crash happened. I had a lot of savings in shares, and I lost everything.” #Anonymous

September 5, 2023

“I did my leaving cert when I was sixteen and then went to culinary college. As part of the course, you had to travel and work. I took part in a competition on an Irish team of cooks. One of the panel judges scouted me through the college and requested I do my training placement in a hotel in the countryside. I’m from the northside of Dublin, I’d never even heard of the place the hotel was located.

For two years I went back and forth between the hotel and Dublin to finish college in Cathal Brugha Street. I fell in love with the countryside, that’s how I ended up staying down there. When I’m down here, I’m a jackeen! When I’m in Dublin, I’m a culchie! My kids are born and reared here, and I’ve been here 30 years.

Where I grew up on the northside, we were reared in abject poverty. My mother always told me, ‘If you want something, you need to work’; she instilled that work ethic in me. And I was a workaholic. When I first came down, I worked ninety hours a week, I took all the work I could get. I lived off the cash and saved all my wages. I was a saver. By the age of 21, I owned my own house. Then I sold it in 2007, and I built a new home.

Where I’m living now, if you got a stone and threw it up the field, that’s where the house I built was. And then the crash happened. I had a lot of savings in shares, and I lost everything. Anglo Irish went bust and the government set up IBRC, which then went bust and we were sold on to the vulture funds. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I got no relief from the government because my house wasn’t in negative equity. It was in negative equity to me, because let’s say I had a loan for 220k and the new house had cost 400k, the balance paid for with the sale of my other house. So, when the house was sold it paid off the vulture fund. From there we went to a homeless shelter, then rented a home on HAP and now we have our CHI home.

I worked my a** off. I paid taxes since I was fourteen years of age. And I thought to myself, “I’m here in a homeless shelter with nothing. I’ve scars on my body from working 90-hour weeks, for years, and I had nothing.” So, I deserve my house. People look down their noses at people in social housing. I’m telling you now, I’m so proud of my home. At the end of the day, most people started off in council housing, unless they were wealthy or from the countryside. Where I came from, you didn’t hear of anyone owning their house, it was rows upon rows of council and corporation housing.

I found the system was wrong. When I tried to get on the social housing list I was penalised because I had never been on it before. I spoke to a councillor, and that helped me get a house with HAP. At the time, he was building a big, beautiful new house, I said to him “Just remember –I was you. I done that. And look at me now, I’m on my hands and knees looking for a roof to put over my children’s head. I’ve paid more taxes than anyone could have.”

There was nothing for people like me. I couldn’t bear the thought of being evicted. I don’t like owing money. So, I chose to go into voluntary sale, pay off the debt and walk away from it. There was nothing in place for people who were forced into voluntary sale or eviction.

After seven months in homeless accommodation, I got offered the house through HAP. I had to travel a bit, but I didn’t care. Through that, I then got my CHI home. And I’m so happy, I’m so grateful every day.

My children were born and raised in our old home which is literally up the field. So, I already knew the area, and I was a volunteer in the Cardiac Response Unit. So, moving in, I didn’t know my next-door neighbours. I now do, they’re a lovely family.

I know a lot of other faces from living in the area so long! When we moved in, we got the keys together, we were like puppies running around! I’d say the people who moved in before us must have been sick of us driving up to look at the estate!”

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