Homeless man sleeping in field on city outskirts

By Justine Dwyer

A homeless man who has been sleeping in a field on the outskirts of the city for almost a week, because of a lack of emergency accommodation, has appealed for someone to help him.
The 34-year-old man who wishes to be only identified as Jamie, has been in and out of hostels since the age of 22 but in recent years was taken in by his uncle.
However when his uncle moved to a one-bedroom unit in 2016 he could no longer accommodate his nephew and Jamie found himself homeless again.
After months of sleeping on friends sofas, the Waterford man contacted emergency services last week to be told there was no accommodation for him. Since last Wednesday he has been sleeping in a tent in a field beside Kill St Lawrence, just off the city’s Outer Ring Road.
“Last week I had nowhere left to go so I contacted the housing office,” he said on Monday.
“They told me they had nothing but that they’d give me a ring when they had. I put my tent up in a field beside Kill St Lawrence. It was lashing rain and I was absolutely soaked so on Saturday I went to the Men’s hostel. They told me they had no beds. Then I went to the Garda station and they said they couldn’t do anything. I feel like they’ve all turned their backs on me,” Jamie explained.
He added that he has to take his tent down every morning as people use the field to walk their dogs in and he puts it up again every night.
“I spend my days just walking around the town. My feet have never been so sore. I get a cup of hot chocolate and my uncle gives me a bit of food. I’m on disability because I suffer very badly with anxiety and I use that money to buy food and cigarettes.”
Jamie concedes that he has been ‘in trouble with the law’ previously but says he has been on the straight and narrow for the last seven years.
“I got help and I cleaned up my act. I haven’t been in any trouble with the Gardaí for the last seven years. My dream is to get a house. There is a one bedroom place very close to where my tent is and it’s been empty for four years. It would be perfect for me. Why can’t they give me that?”
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Mayor John Hearne (SF) has voiced his concern about the situation and said the reaction from officialdom hasn’t been good enough.
“I met this chap last Friday and he told me his story. He was drowned, it was lashing rain and he was sleeping in a tent. I told him to contact the relevant services otherwise they would say he didn’t try hard enough and he did but they all turned him away. None of them cared. They say this doesn’t happen nowadays but it does. People like Jamie do fall through the cracks.”
When contacted, both the Housing Office and the Men’s Hostel said they could not comment on individual cases except to say there was currently a waiting list for emergency accommodation consisting of two homeless people and that Jamie was second on the list.
A spokesperson for the Housing Office denied that there was a council house in that area vacant for four years and added that in order to qualify for any allocation you had to be on the housing list for quite some time.
They added that the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) was a form of social housing support for people who had a long term housing need and could be accessed through the local housing office.

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