Nowhere To Go...Mother and son facing homelessness as tenancy runs out

A MOTHER and her special needs son face homelessness tomorrow (Wednesday), as they have to quit the home they have rented in Navan for the past 11 years.

In a situation that highlights the housing crisis currently being faced in the county and country, Melanie McCabe is at her wits end, as she has nowhere to go with her 17 year-old son, Rhys.

“I have been trying to get somewhere since I was given notice last December, but it is impossible," she says. “I've tried everything but I cannot get anywhere to rent that isn't way too expensive."

She explains that she is entitled to Housing Assistance Payments, but she has been give a limit of €1,400.

"Most properties seem to be €1,800 to €1,900.”

Melanie's story on the front of this week's paper

Up until now she has been paying €900 in rent each month.

“Because of Rhys's special needs, I cannot put him into an apartment, I need to have at least a small garden. I don't drive so I need to be in the town so that Rhys can get to school.” Rhys is a student of St Ultan's School in Navan.

“It is heartbreaking as it is taking him away from the environment he is used to. All our neighbours know him and he is worrying about whether he will be able to back to school.

“I am on the housing list, but only since 2011, and the council have told me there are a lot of people ahead of me. They also say they cannot do anything for me until I am officially homeless, which is tomorrow.

“I don know what we will do. It is heart breaking packing up everything and having to throw away a lot of stuff.”

I'm terribly worried, I'm all over the place.

“To be fair, I was given notice in December, but although I have been trying so hard to find somewhere since then, I haven't got anything."

Melanie explains that she has lived in Navan for the past 20 years and in her current accommodation since she split up with her partner.

“I am very worried about Rhys. If it was just me I could deal with it, but he asked me if we would be sleeping on the street. I didn't tell him until recently, because I didn't want him worrying.

“It is a terrible situation. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could end up in this situation. I know I am not the only one. There are thousands of others in the same boat, I hate going public like this, but I am desperate,” she said.

The Mayor of Navan, Cllr Eddie Fennessy, says Melanie's is an exceptionally difficult case.

"Melanie's son Rhys has special needs and he is acutely aware of their pending homelessness. It's having a very negative impact on his mental health.

"Frustratingly this situation is not unique. I see more and more children suffer with mental health issues because of the housing crisis. It is the social catastrophe of our time and one that would be preventable if only we had a government with the political will to implement policies that benefit tenants rather than developers.

"In fairness to Meath County Council's Homeless Settlement Office they too are trying to find a private rental property for Melanie and Rhys. Unfortunately the market is so scarce even they can't find somewhere for them to live.

"What makes the situation so frustrating is that through no fault of their own, they've become victim's of the housing crisis. Melanie has a maximum sustainable HAP rate of €1,452. I plead for anyone in Navan or Kells who has a property to rent, to please offer it to Melanie and Rhys before they become homeless on Wednesday."

A spokesperson for Meath County Council said they are unable to comment on individual cases.