A war of words between a homeless Carlow woman and Carlow County Council continues this evening, writes Ciara Phelan.
Karen Middleton, who is staging a sleep-out protest outside the County Council offices, said that although she and her son had been granted rent allowance she was forced to leave two properties because they were ‘unfit’ to live in.
"I have previously been given rent allowance but I left the two properties because the houses were unfit to live in, one house was mouldy and damp and the last house I lived in was a health hazard, I couldn’t use one of the rooms it was mouldy."
"I’ve never been offered a council house and I’ve been on the waiting list seven years," she said.
Ms Middleton claims she was told by the council that she could stay in emergency accommodation until she could find somewhere suitable to rent and was not given an explanation as to why she had to leave the property on Monday.
Carlow County Council have issued a statement in which they point out that the council advised Ms Middleton that she would have to leave the emergency accommodation and depend on her family network if she was not able to source a rented property by June 13.
When asked why Ms Middleton’s emergency accommodation was taken from her, housing councillor for Carlow County Council Seamus O’Connor said there was room for Ms Middleton with other family members.
"She has available accommodation with four other family members in Carlow town," he said.
Ms Middleton dismissed that suggestion, however.
"My brother was given a council house in the last two weeks but has no room for me and the council has told him not to let anyone else into the house. My other brother’s lease also states that no one is allowed to sleep in his house and my sister has three children in a house which is overcrowded and is 15 miles outside of Carlow," she said.
Cllr O’Connor said that the council have data that shows there is space available in those properties.
The local councillor also called on the State to financially help family members who agree to allow their relatives to live with them.
"The State should give help where appropriate to families that will help their kids and grandchildren. That’s the real problem and will help homelessness," he said.
Ms Middleton went on to suggest she is not the only homeless person in Carlow and that at least ten others have approached her who are squatting and sleeping in cars.