Independent Cork county councillor, Joe Harris, spoke out yesterday to warn that no one is safe from the housing crisis sweeping the country.
“I kind of knew it was coming, of course, but at the same time, it does creep up on you. You’d be hoping that something would happen, that something would work out, but it didn’t.”
As was reported in yesterday's Cork Evening Echo, Cllr Harris was forced to vacate his home at Elm Drive, Shamrock Lawn, in Douglas, last Monday, after which time the locks were changed by the appointed receiver.
The councillor is temporarily staying with a family member while he tries to formulate a plan of action.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people in similar situations and I’ve helped them get accommodation and to sort out their finances, but when you find yourself in the same situation you can get a bit flustered and it’s harder to deal with. I guess I got a bit caught in the headlights.”
“I’ve no long-term plans at the moment, but I’ll try find a flat or an apartment or something. I’m ok, I’d sleep anywhere. I’ll keep hoping anyway. I have to. It’s a horrible situation, but I’m going to try and keep positive.”
At the height of the Celtic Tiger, Mr Harris ran an auctioneering business, with 30 people across five offices, and an annual wage bill of more than €1m.
When the recession hit, Cllr Harris’ finances were severely damaged. His business collapsed in 2007 and, being self-employed, he was unable to sign on for welfare payments.
“There are thousands of people in the same boat as me. That’s just the way the country’s going. Now I know what it’s like to actually go through something like this myself,” he said.
Meanwhile, Simon Communities have today called for a cross-party initiative on the housing crisis while the country waits for a new government.