People at risk of homelessness have threatened to occupy vacant boarded-up council homes as the housing crisis deepens.

They issued the warning during a protest on the steps of Cork’s City Hall before Monday’s city council meeting — the second such housing protest at City Hall in recent weeks.

Some of the protesters said they are so desperate they are considering taking down the shuttering and moving into the vacant homes, to avoid being sent to emergency accommodation, including homeless shelters.

Members of the group have been highlighting the sheer volume of vacant council homes lying idle and boarded-up across the city. The most recent figure stands at 361.

Lisa Moran, 45, who has been on the housing waiting list for almost 20 years, has to vacate her rented accommodation on Friday. She is facing life in a bed and breakfast. “They wanted me to go into a shelter. I even had to fight them for the B&B,” she said. “I was in a similar situation a good few years ago but it was easy to get rented accommodation at the time.

Protesters on the steps of Cork City Hall on Monday night calling on the council to open up vacant council houses.
Protesters on the steps of Cork City Hall on Monday night calling on the council to open up vacant council houses.

“It’s impossible now to get rented accommodation. I could be stuck like this for months. I just don’t know.”

She criticised the length of time it takes to return vacant council homes to use, and said the money being spent on emergency accommodation could be used to repair the local authority homes and return them to use. “This could be solved if they all put their heads together,” she said.

Eileen McCarthy said her daughter, Sarah, 26, and her children, aged eight and four, had to leave emergency accommodation at Travelodge last Monday and present herself at Edel House.

“Other than that, it was the street,” she said.

“They say she could be there for up to eight months.

“As an adult, you can kind of cope to an extent. But how do you explain to children?

“She asked me how am I going to organise the communion for the little fella, from a hostel, and I said you’re going to just have to do it.” Ms McCarthy said her daughter has been on the housing waiting list for eight years and has never been offered a home.

“There are houses empty all over the city. I agree with these people — they are so frustrated.

“I can see why they want to take the boards off the houses, change the locks, go to the Credit Union and get a loan, and do the houses up themselves,” she said.


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