Homelessness: Two men reveal their own personal story

Robbie, 33, and Ciarán, 30, have both been homeless since their teens.

They currently share a room in a hostel run by the Peter McVerry Trust, but without a place to call their own, their lives remain on hold.

“Since I was 16, 17, I’ve been more or less homeless,” says Robbie. “I’m 33 now. And I’ve never been given an official house. I’ve never lost a house for them to be punishing me or anything.

“You need that house to live a life. This is life on hold. And I’m getting older, you know? I’m 34 next March.”

Robbie and Ciarán met while living in a squat after giving up ringing the free phone number of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.

They have been living here, in their immaculately kept room, in what is known now as supported temporary accommodation, since Christmas.

“I got here about three weeks before Christmas,” says Robbie. “It’s steady. The place is steady, yeah, it’s clean. As you can see the two of us came together. We were homeless for two and a half years, we were in a squat. We gave up on the free phone.

“They [the Peter McVerry Trust] were saying they should hopefully have us housed and moved on shortly.”

For Robbie, he wants a place to call his own so that he can come off methadone, and he does not believe he can do that while still in emergency accommodation.

“I want to get my house and then I want to get into treatment,” he says.

“I have my treatment centre and all ready to go and everything, but I need a house now to come back out to because I can’t come back into an environment like here, after coming off my methadone and all.

“He says we’re not too far down the list now, me and Ciarán.”

Ciarán went from living in care to homelessness when he turned 18.

It was then he was exposed to drug use for the first time.

“When I was in the care system, literally that day of your 18th birthday, your bags were packed and you were told: ‘See those houses around the corner?’ ”says Ciarán.

“And you’d go around and this would be the adult place. That was the first time I’d seen everyone you know, doing, you know just injecting themselves on the bed.

“It was my first time seeing all that. But just to take you from being in the care system to that day, out you go. And I have been in and out of hostels like that since that day.”

Both men now feel safe in the Peter McVerry Trust-run accommodation centre, where they can do laundry, use computers, visit a doctor, and are well fed. However, they want their own homes to start life over.

“I feel good in here. I don’t feel I’m been pressured or anything,” says Ciarán. “That’s an environment you want, believe me, when you’ve slept out when you’ve had people pulling you out of your sleeping bag, people lighting you on fire, people urinating on you.”

However, they do not want to spend the rest of their lives living in supported temporary accommodation.

“It’s very irritating how long it takes for something to get right,” says Ciarán. “For once, Leo Varadkar, fair play to him, he’s the first politician to ever stand up and say:

‘Well I don’t think I’ll solve homelessness in my term.’ I heard Bertie Ahern saying it, I heard Cowen saying it and I heard the other fella [Enda Kenny] saying it.

“It’s just about starting life again and letting us just get somewhere where we can put the key in the door and as soon as that key is put in that door, that’s the whole start of the new life, career, everything.”

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Combating crisis: Focus report on homeless is welcome

Focus Ireland finds that 90% of homeless families had stable housing histories

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