“I would rather end my life than live on the streets, be homeless. What else can I do?” she said last night.
The woman, who asked to be referred to as Ann, has been renting the privately owned two-bed city centre apartment for nine years.
She has been on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) for four years, which sees Cork City Council paying her private landlord some €550 rent a month.
Against the backdrop of rising rents and a shortage of housing, Ann was served with a notice of termination on July 1 and ordered to vacate the premises by July 17.
But she is refusing to leave until she finds somewhere else to live: “I don’t like to do what I’m doing. It’s the landlord’s property. But I have no intention of leaving the apartment. Where do I go?
“If I go to a homeless shelter, I’m putting myself at risk. I can’t afford advance rent, and even if I do find a place that takes rent allowance, I have to find the money for a deposit and advance rent.
“And I could be waiting up to eight months before I get State payments.
“I’m living there now, not by choice, but because I have no option until I find a secure apartment. I need the city council to see how desperate my situation is.”
Ann was forced to give up work in accounting some years ago because of a range of complex medical issues.
She is in receipt of an invalidity pension and has been on Cork City Council’s housing waiting list for seven years.
However, she’s been told there is no suitable accommodation for her and has been advised to report to a homeless shelter.
Ann said she can’t afford current market rent rates and fears becoming homeless.
She has appealed directly to Lord Mayor Cllr Chris O’Leary for help following his pledge to make housing one of his key priorities.
And she has lodged a dispute with the Private Residential Tenancies Board, saying she is unable to comply with notice of termination of tenancy.
Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, of The People’s Convention, is working on Ann’s case and said her plight is not unique.
“Ann’s situation is critical. If she was to report to any of the homeless shelters in Cork it would undoubtedly damage her already fragile health.
“Her situation is typical of many others. There is a deepening housing crisis and little prospect of any relief.
“The right to shelter is regarded as a fundamental human right. However the situation is in crisis and services are nowhere near what they need to be in order to provide shelter to those who need it.”
Mr Ó Cadhla urged anyone who needs free tenancy advice to contact The People’s Convention Resource Centre on Douglas Street.